Chelsea, Liver­pool each main­tain EPL per­fec­tion

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

The foun­da­tions are be­ing laid for one of the English Premier League’s most ex­hil­a­rat­ing and com­pet­i­tive ti­tle races.

For the first time since the league’s in­cep­tion 26 years ago, two teams — Chelsea and Liver­pool — have a 100 per­cent win­ning record af­ter five matches.

Eden Hazard’s hat trick pow­ered Chelsea to a 4-1 vic­tory over Cardiff on Satur­day shortly af­ter Roberto Firmino helped Liver­pool over­come Tot­ten­ham 2-1.

Chelsea hosts Liver­pool in a show­down at Stam­ford Bridge in two weeks. And the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons are in the slip­stream. Still un­beaten, Manch­ester City beat Ful­ham 3-0 to remain two points be­hind the front-run­ners.

Wat­ford made an un­ex­pect­edly per­fect start to the cam­paign but that was now over af­ter be­ing beaten 2-1 by Manch­ester United, which is try­ing to close a six-point gap on the lead­ers.

More Europe: Ous­mane Dem­bele came to Barcelona’s res­cue for a third time this sea­son when the French for­ward struck a sec­ond-half win­ner to com­plete a come­back at Real So­ciedad 2-1. The goal gave the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons four wins in as many rounds of the Span­ish league. That left Barcelona alone at the top of the ta­ble at two points ahead of Real Madrid, which drew at Ath­letic Bil­bao 1-1 . ... French pow­er­house Lyon drew 2-2 in Nor­mandy fol­low­ing a late equal­izer from Fer­land Mendy that spared the blushes of an­other de­feat. Lyon has al­ready lost twice, and is lag­ging eight points be­hind league leader Paris Saint-Ger­main af­ter only five rounds.

MLS: Miguel Alm­iron scored twice in the first 18 min­utes and as­sisted on an­other goal to help At­lanta United beat the Colorado Rapids 3-0 on Satur­day.

Alm­iron opened the scor­ing in the 10th minute, set­tling Ju­lian Gres­sel’s wide cross and fin­ish­ing with a left-footed shot from in­side the up­per-left cor­ner of the 6-yard box.

Alm­iron slot­ted home Josef Martinez’s lay­off to dou­ble the lead in the 18th and sent a long ball for­ward to Gres­sel, who crossed it to Hec­tor Vil­lalba for

At­lanta’s third in the 37th minute.

United (17-5-6) moved two points ahead of the New York Red Bulls in the Sup­port­ers’ Shield race.

The Rapids (6-16-6) lost their fourth in a row.

NWSL: Tobin Heath and Lind­sey Horan scored and the host Port­land Thorns ad­vanced to the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League cham­pi­onship game with a 2-1 semi­fi­nal vic­tory over the Seat­tle Reign.

The de­fend­ing NWSL cham­pion Thorns (13-6-6) will play the win­ner of the other semi­fi­nal be­tween the Chicago Red Stars and the North Carolina Courage for the ti­tle next Satur­day at Port­land’s Prov­i­dence Park. The semi­fi­nal be­tween the Courage (17-1-6) and Red Stars (9-5-10) was orig­i­nally set for Sun­day in Cary, but the game was moved to Tues­day night in Port­land be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Florence.

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