LONDON, Feb 13, (AFP): Mourinho’s former club Chelsea continue to prosper under interim manager Guus Hiddink and extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a breezy 5-1 home win over Newcastle United that elevated them to 12th.
Diego Costa, wearing a mask to protect a broken nose, Pedro Rodriguez and Willian all found the net inside the first 17 minutes, with Pedro adding a second goal before substitute Bertrand Traore completed the rout.
Andros Townsend replied late on for Steve McClaren’s Newcastle, who slumped back into the relegation zone.
Chelsea are now eight points shy of the European places, but victory came at the cost of an injury to departing captain John Terry, who went off in the 38th minute after an awkward landing.
Meanwhile, David de Gea’s cruel 82nd-minute own goal condemned Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United to a 2-1 defeat at struggling Sunderland on Saturday that compromised their hopes of Champions League.
Bidding to close the six-point gap separating them from fourth-place Manchester City, United fell behind in the third minute when Wahbi Khazri’s free-kick from out on the left eluded everyone and crept in at the far post.
Anthony Martial equalised in the 39th minute, but Sunderland took the points when Martial’s attempt to clear Lamine Kone’s header off the line struck goalkeeper De Gea’s arm and rolled into the net.
It was United’s seventh league defeat of the season and it will only serve to fuel speculation about the position of their manager Van Gaal, amid reports that the club have approached Jose Mourinho to succeed him. United fell to a first league defeat on Wearside for 19 years and became the first top-half team that struggling Sunderland have beaten this season in 14 attempts.
In their first game since announcing the sacking of Adam Johnson after the England winger admitted to child sex charges, Sunderland took an early lead in fortunate circumstances. The hosts earned a free-kick near to their left touchline following a foul on Patrick van Aanholt by Matteo Darmian. Khazri swung in the set-piece, which travelled between the legs of Jermain Defoe, and beyond United’s defensive line to find the net off the bottom of De Gea’s left-hand post.
Chris Smalling stood firm to prevent Defoe doubling the lead shortly afterwards, shepherding the Sunderland forward’s effort to safety after Van Aanholt and Lee Cattermole created a half-chance.
Sunderland’s pressure mounted and they had penalty appeals turned down by referee Andre Marriner, who was well placed to wave play on when Khazri’s shot struck Morgan Schneiderlin on the arm inside the area.
It took Van Gaal’s side half an hour to muster an effort on target, Vito Mannone saving comfortably after Wayne Rooney teed up Mata to send in a tame shot.
It was a warning Sunderland failed to heed, as the visitors drew level six minutes before half-time.
Stoke 3, Bournemouth 1
In Bournemouth, United Kingdom, club record signing Giannelli Imbula scored his first goal for Stoke City to set his new side on their way to a 3-1 Premier League win at Bournemouth.
Imbula’s superb volley nine minutes in at the Vitality Stadium put Stoke ahead and two goals early in the second half by Ibrahim Afellay and Joselu put them out of sight before Matt Ritchie pulled one back. The win ended a run of three straight defeats for Stoke and four games without even scoring a goal, with Mark Hughes’s side climbing back up to ninth.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, are four points clear of the relegation zone after suffering a second consecutive defeat at home.
Eddie Howe’s men never recovered from the loss of the early goal to Imbula, the Belgian-born midfielder not breaking his stride as he latched onto a Simon Francis clearance to volley low into the far corner from just outside the area.
It was Imbula’s first goal since signing from FC Porto for a club record £18.3 million ($26 million) just before the transfer window shut.
Jonathan Walters was back in the Stoke side in place of the ill Marko Arnautovic and both he and Xherdan Shaqiri had chances to increase the lead before the break.
Watford 2, Palace 1
Troy Deeney’s late goal earned Watford a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace in a lively Premier League game at Selhurst Park.
Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak fouled Deeney in the area and the Watford striker calmly converted the resulting penalty after 15 minutes.
Watford had chances to extend their lead but Emmanuel Adebayor headed in an equaliser on the stroke of halftime, the Togo striker’s first goal for his new club.
Adebayor almost scored again with another strong header but it was well saved by Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes and Deeney sealed the points for the visitors with a firm drive eight minutes from time.
“It is a massive win. We target teams in and around us to take the points and it was a well deserved victory, and a well fought one,” Deeney told the BBC.
“I thought we dominated the first half, but when they got a goal at the end of the half we knew a reaction was coming so it was about managing that,” he added.
“We are just getting closer to the 40-point mark.”
Palace have not won in nine Premier League games.
“We were not good in the first half. We were much improved in the second half and should have won it, so a bit of a blow to lose the game,” Palace manager Alan Pardew said.
“We made a slight error on the Watford winner. I can’t think of too much of a threat they had in the second half,” he added.
“We are on a tricky run and need to fight our way out of this form.”