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Ranieri working his magic again

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-26 09:29
Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico jumps for joy after seeing Aleksandar Mitrovic equalize for the host in Saturday's English Premier League game against Southampton at Craven Cottage in London. Serbian striker Mitrovic later scored a second goal for the Cottagers to help them to a 3-2 victory in new manager Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge. ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS

Leicester legend off to flier at Fulham in eventful weekend of English Premier League action

A stirring fightback. A first win in nearly three months. An attacking partnership already clicking.

Welcome back to the English Premier League, Claudio Ranieri.

The Italian coach who masterminded the most improbable title triumph in English soccer history, with little Leicester City in 2016, is back in the Premier League as the new manager of Fulham, and made an immediate impact in his first game in charge.

Fulham beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday to climb off the bottom of the standings with only its second victory of the season, and its first since Aug 26.

First, this victory. Next, the title?

Maybe not. Fulham won't be replicating Leicester's unlikely feat - achieved at odds of 5,000-1 - this season anyway, but his arrival has at least brought some optimism to a club owned by American billionaire Shahid Khan, who also runs the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ranieri called for togetherness at Fulham when he was presented as manager last week and there were certainly early signs of that, with his players fighting back after going behind at Craven Cottage in the 18th minute and then getting pegged back to 2-2 early in the second half.

There is also the makings of an exciting combination up front, which Ranieri will hope rivals the one he produced at Leicester with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Winger Ryan Sessegnon set up Aleksandar Mitrovic for the winner in the 63rd minute, the Serbia striker's second goal of the match.

Sessegnon, one of the most highly rated youngsters in the English game, also set up Andre Schurrle for Fulham's other goal in possibly his best display of the season.

While there was change at the bottom of the Premier League, it was more of the same at the top as Manchester City and Liverpool picked up where they left off before the international break with big wins to stay undefeated after 13 games.

There was, however, a first loss of the season for Chelsea.

Blues beaten

Blues boss Maurizio Sarri experienced his first loss in English soccer as Chelsea was beaten 3-1 by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, ending one of the league's three undefeated records.

Spurs jumped above its London rival in the standings thanks to goals by Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Son Heungmin in a rampant performance by Mauricio Pochettino's side.

The sight of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho clutching at thin air as Son outpaced him to score Spurs' third goal was a fitting image, with Tottenham quicker to everything in a one-sided derby.

Chelsea, which scored a late consolation through substitute Olivier Giroud, dropped seven points behind leader City.

City cruises

Pep Guardiola's City swept to a 4-0 victory at West Ham, with wingers Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling between them involved in all the goals at London Stadium.

Sterling set up David Silva for the opener, scored himself off Sane's cross, then returned the favor for Sane to net the pick of the goals, leaving City 3-0 ahead after 34 minutes. Sane drove home a fourth in second-half stoppage time.

The win kept City top by two points and took its goals-per-game average in the league this season to above three.

Firmino fires

Roberto Firmino netted for the first time since Sept 15 and Mo Salah scored his sixth goal in seven games in Liverpool's 3-0 win at Watford.

The highlight, however, was sandwiched between those strikes - a brilliant freekick from England right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool, which stayed two points behind City, will be without Jordan Henderson for next weekend's Merseyside derby with Everton after the midfielder was sent off for two bookings - the second coming just after he'd been warned by the referee.

United booed

With City and Liverpool scoring freely, Manchester United's struggles were put firmly into focus as Jose Mourinho's team stuttered to a 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace.

It dropped United seven points off the top four and 14 points behind City.

Boos greeted the final whistle at Old Trafford, such was the host's listless performance against a relegation-battling Palace side without a league win for 10 weeks. United has failed to score in four of its nine home games in all competitions this term.

Associated Press

 

 

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