Ah Boxing Day. When the eyes of the footballing world is focused solely on the English Premier League and the tradition of holiday football.
Yaya Toure shrugged off John Terry’s claim the title-race pressure is all on Manchester City by leading Manuel Pellegrini’s men to a 3-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion.
Chelsea captain Terry said “it’s going to be tough” for his side’s rivals to stay close to the pacesetters after the Blues took a temporary six-point English Premier League lead with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United. Terry also said Chelsea’s early Boxing Day kick-off and ninth consecutive Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge heaped the pressure on second-placed City.
Toure and company had other ideas however, the Ivorian netting a penalty to send City 2-0 up in just 13 minutes at The Hawthorns following Fernando’s opener. David Silva added City’s third goal in the first half, before the visitors shut up shop to coast home after the turnaround despite Brown Ideye netting for West Brom late on.
The Etihad Stadium side stretched their winning run to nine games in all competitions, and seven in the Premier League. Terry’s header and Diego Costa’s 13th goal of the season had earlier extended Chelsea’s 100 per cent Premier League record at Stamford Bridge to nine games in the day’s lunchtime kick-off.
While City were quick to launch a riposte to the Blues’ comfortable victory, their neighbours Manchester United eased past Newcastle United 3-1 at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney scored twice and set up Robin van Persie as Louis van Gaal’s side cemented third place in the table, Newcastle slipping to their fourth-straight defeat in all competitions. Papiss Cisse claimed a consolation strike from the penalty spot in the dying stages, but by then the hosts were already out of sight.
Southampton leapfrogged West Ham into fourth place with an assured 3-1 victory over struggling Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Sadio Mane notched his first goal in eight Premier League games before laying on a second for Ryan Bertrand.
James Ward-Prowse then teed up Toby Alderweireld to nod Southampton’s third, the Belgium defender having hit the bar in the first half. Scott Dann headed a late goal but it was not enough to prevent Palace’s dismal run extended to just one win in 12 in all competitions, with Neil Warnock’s men slipping into the relegation zone as a result.
Hull City claimed their first win in 11 Premier League games with a 3-1 comeback victory at Sunderland, to move out of the drop zone at Palace’s expense. Adam Johnson put Sunderland ahead after just 30 seconds, but Southampton loanee Gaston Ramirez struck his first Hull goal on his 12th appearance for the club to draw the teams level, before setting up James Chester to double his side’s tally. Former Everton striker Nikica Jelavic then killed the contest by blasting Hull’s third goal as the game edged to its conclusion.
Christian Eriksen’s free-kick helped Tottenham Hotspur survive a scare at Leicester City as they returned from the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 win. Harry Kane handed Spurs the lead in the first minute, but Leonardo Ulloa’s second goal in four games drew Leicester level. Denmark midfielder Eriksen blasted Spurs to victory however, to leave Leicester still rooted to the foot of the table.
Stoke City secured just their second win in seven games thanks to Bojan Krkic’s penalty in a 1-0 victory at Everton. Liverpool ground their way to a 1-0 win at Burnley, England forward Raheem Sterling on target for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Burnley would have leapfrogged Palace and out of the relegation zone with a draw, but were unable to hold firm against the Reds at Turf Moor. Swansea City had Gylfi Sigurdsson’s early free-kick to thank for the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium.