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MANCHESTER: Manchester United kept alive their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four, with two goals from Marcus Rashford and one each from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood giving them a 4-0 home win over Norwich City yesterday. The result left United fifth in the standings on 34 points from 22 games, five behind fourth-placed Chelsea, while Norwich stayed rooted to the bottom with 14 points. Midfielder Juan Mata enjoyed a rare league start for United and made the most of it as he contributed with two assists, the first when Rashford met the Spaniard’s inswinging cross at the far post and side-footed it home in the 27th minute.
Rashford made it 2-0 with a 52nd-minute penalty as he drove his spot-kick low past goalkeeper Tim Krul, who had needlessly hauled down United’s left back Brandon Williams with a mistimed tackle. The lively Mata was at it again two minutes later when he delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right for Martial to head home emphatically into the bottom corner from close range. Second-half substitute Greenwood put the icing on the cake for the home side with a crisp low shot from 18 metres shortly after he came on for Andreas Pereira.
Earlier, Chelsea showed the killer instinct Frank Lampard has demanded as Callum Hudson-Odoi scored his first Premier League goal and Tammy Abraham was back on target in yesterday’s 3-0 win against Burnley. Lampard’s side have taken more points on their travels than they have in west London this season after a series of frustrating performances at Stamford Bridge. The Blues boss has questioned whether his young Chelsea team have the “balls” to cope with the stress of breaking down defensive opponents after surprise home defeats against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton this season.
But Chelsea proved they have the nous required to turn possession into tangible rewards at the Bridge as Jorginho’s penalty opened the scoring in the first half against a Burnley side set up to frustrate. Abraham’s 15th Chelsea goal of his breakthrough season doubled the lead and Hudson-Odoi finished off Burnley soon after half-time. Hudson Odoi’s maiden top-flight effort was a welcome boost for the teenager, who has admitted struggling to recapture last season’s impressive form due to fears he will suffer a recurrence of April’s Achilles injury.
Afer losing five of their past nine league games, a spell that did include wins at Tottenham and Arsenal, Chelsea look back on track. They consolidated fourth place and sit five points ahead of fifth placed Manchester United in the race to qualify for the Champions League. There was also just a second clean-sheet in 10 league matches to give Lampard further encouragement, albeit against a Burnley side who have lost seven of their last nine league games. Lampard had made three changes, with Ross Barkley in for France midfielder N’Golo Kante, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in training on Friday.
Often lacking inspiration at home, Chelsea started with a sustained spell of pressure that kept Burnley camped in their own half. Willian’s long-range effort deflected wide off Ben Mee before Reece James just cleared the bar with a powerful drive. Burnley thought they had snatched the lead against the run of play when Mee headed towards Jeff Hendrick and he nodded home at the far post.
But the flag went up and a VAR review showed Mee had strayed offside by the narrowest of margins. It was the turning point as Chelsea took the lead in the 27th minute. James spread the ball wide to Willian and he accelerated past Matt Lowton with real purpose, provoking the Burnley defender into a rash sliding tackle that sent the Brazilian crashing to the turf. Referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot and Italy midfielder Jorginho stepped up to send Nick Pope the wrong way for his sixth club goal of the season. – Agencies
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