LONDON: Erling Haaland struck twice as Manchester City crushed Southampton 4-1 to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal, while Frank Lampard’s first game back in charge of Chelsea ended in a 1-0 defeat at Wolves on Saturday. Haaland took his Premier League goal tally to 30 this season, within four of the single-season record, thanks to a clinical header and a breathtaking overhead kick at St Mary’s. The Norway forward’s goals, which gave him 44 in all competitions this term, came either side of Jack Grealish’s strike against the league’s bottom club.

Julian Alvarez netted with a late penalty as second-placed City moved within five points of Arsenal, who travel to Liverpool on Sunday. Arsenal remain firm favorites to end City’s reign as champions but with Haaland in this mood and a home game against the Gunners to come on April 26, there is no chance Pep Guardiola’s side will surrender without a fight. “The second goal was amazing. It is not easy to pick the ball up in the sky and put it on the grass,” Guardiola said. “The first half was not our best level but he changed the game.

We lived two incredible decades with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but he is on that level.” Lampard made a surprise return to Stamford Bridge on Thursday when he was appointed until the end of the season following Graham Potter’s sacking last Sunday after just seven months in charge. But the ex-Chelsea midfielder, who was dismissed by the club’s former owner Roman Abramovich in January 2021, could not provide an immediate lift for the Blues. Matheus Nunes won it for Wolves in the 32nd minute with a superb half-volley into the far corner from the edge of the area.

Chelsea remain 11th after a fourth consecutive game without a win. Sacked by lowly Everton in January after less than a year in charge, Lampard said of his Chelsea return: “There has been a lot of change and that’s not an excuse but things need to improve. That performance summed it up.” At Old Trafford, Manchester United beat Everton 2-0 to stay fourth and leave the fourth-bottom visitors above the relegation zone on goal difference. Goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial edged United ever closer to a return to the Champions League next season. Despite the win, United boss Erik ten Hag took aim at his side’s congested fixture schedule after Marcus Rashford limped off nine minutes from time. “We have to wait.

He doesn’t look well,” said Ten Hag. “It’s due to the schedule. It can’t be that you play three games in six days and we have to protect the players.” Newcastle fight back Third-placed Newcastle are above United on goal difference after a 2-1 success at Brentford made it five consecutive wins for the Magpies. Brentford forward Ivan Toney missed from the spot for the first time since 2018, but made amends when he converted another penalty in the 45th minute. Newcastle equalized through David Raya’s 54th-minute own goal as Joelinton’s chip went in off the Brentford goalkeeper. And Alexander Isak won it after 61 minutes with a blistering finish from the edge of the area.

Tottenham are three points behind Newcastle after beating Brighton 2-1 in north London. Son Heung-min put Tottenham ahead with a superb long-range curler into the top corner after 10 minutes. It took the South Korean’s Premier League tally to 100 goals, making him the first Asian player to reach that landmark. Lewis Dunk headed Brighton’s equalizer from Solly March’s corner in the 34th minute. Tottenham interim manager Cristian Stellini and Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi were both sent off after a touchline spat before Harry Kane lashed home the winner in the 79th minute.

Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins scored for Aston Villa, who climbed to sixth place after a 2-0 home win against third-bottom Nottingham Forest. West Ham boosted their survival bid as Harrison Reed’s 23rd-minute own goal sealed a 1-0 win at Fulham. Bournemouth rose out of the relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 victory at second-bottom Leicester, who were booed off after Philip Billing’s 40th-minute winner. - AFP