London (AFP) – Manchester City succumbed to a first Premier League defeat since January in stunning fashion to newly-promoted Norwich 3-2 on Saturday, as Liverpool opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table by beating Newcastle 3-1.
Tottenham and Chelsea bounced back to form with comprehensive wins over Crystal Palace and Wolves respectively, while Manchester United held out for a much-needed three points with a 1-0 victory over Leicester.
However, Liverpool were the big winners as the gaps left in City’s defence by the injured Aymeric Laporte were exposed at Carrow Road.
Kenny McLean showed up the champions problems with defending set-pieces with a towering header to open the scoring and Teemu Pukki then squared for Todd Cantwell to make it 2-0 inside 28 minutes.
City regained their composure and got a foothold in the game before half-time when Sergio Aguero headed home Bernardo Silva’s cross.
However, with Laporte out till January at least with a serious knee injury, Pep Guardiola has problems to solve at the heart of his defence as John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi gifted Norwich a third at the start of the second-half.
Emiliano Buendia robbed Otamendi and set up Pukki to prod home.
City rallied late on, but Rodri’s first goal for the club two minutes from time was too little, too late.
Liverpool also fell behind early on to Newcastle as Jetro Willems brilliant finish saw the Reds trailing at Anfield for the first time since March.
Sadio Mane fired into the top corner to start the revival, but it was the introduction of Roberto Firmino off the bench for the injured Divock Origi that truly turned the tide in Liverpool’s favour.
The Brazilian’s through ball was spilled by Martin Dubravka to allow Mane a simple task for his second just before half-time, and another brilliant Firmino flick teed up Salah to seal the points 18 minutes from time.
“I started enjoying after 25 minutes, around about when we arrived finally in the game,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“Second-half we scored only one goal, but we played really good football and I liked it a lot.”
– Relief for Lampard –
Frank Lampard has endured a difficult start on his return to Stamford Bridge as manager, but he enjoyed his finest day so far in charge Chelsea with his faith in youth again fully vindicated in a 5-2 win at Wolves.