Chelsea gets payback, stays well ahead in EPL
Antonio Conte waited more than four months for revenge against Arsenal. With a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, the wait was worth it, and Chelsea remained nine points clear atop the English Premier League, too.
The convincing win more than compensated for Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat by Arsenal on the other side of London at the Emirates in September.
On Saturday, from the moment Marcus Alonso scored the opener after 13 minutes, there was little doubt which team was going to win. Eden Hazard’s sublime second goal was greeted with raucous celebrations, and by the time Cesc Fabregas added a third, Arsenal was well beaten.
For all of Conte’s insistence that the title race is far from over, it would take a monumental drop in form by Chelsea for any rival to have a serious chance. Tottenham consolidated second place Saturday with a 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough in the evening game, but with fourth-place Liverpool losing, 2-0, at Hull, Chelsea is still sitting pretty.
In other action, Romelu Lukaku scored four goals, including one after just 30 seconds, in Everton’s 6-3 rout of Bournemouth; Sunderland left former manager Sam Allardyce stunned by routing Crystal Palace, 4-0; and James Morrison scored again for West Brom in a 1-0 defeat of Stoke.
SPAIN: Paco Alcacer, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal scored to lead Barcelona to a 3-0 win over visiting Athletic Bilbao, while Fernando Torres ended a wait of more than four months for a goal in league play, scoring twice to ease Atletico Madrid past Leganes, 2-0.
The win moved Barcelona within a point of leader Real Madrid, which has played two fewer matches. Real’s match Sunday at Celta Vigo was postponed because of safety concerns over falling debris from wind damage.
GERMANY: Bundesligaleading Bayern Munich was held to a 1-1 draw at home by Schalke in another unconvincing display, but Leipzig lost ground in the title race with a 1-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund.
Leipzig thought it had tied the score in injury time, but Stefan Ilsanker’s goal was disallowed because of an offside penalty.
ITALY: Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik each scored hat tricks, and Napoli extended its unbeaten streak to 17 matches across all competitions with a 7-1 rout at Bologna.
Napoli faces Real Madrid next week in a first leg of the Champions League knockout phase.
AFRICA: Alain Traore fired in an 89th-minute free kick to give Burkina Faso a 1-0 win over Ghana in the third-place match at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Egypt, seeking a record-extending eighth title, will play Cameroon in Sunday’s final in the Gabonese capital of Libreville.