London (AFP) – Christian Eriksen made an emotional return to football eight months after his cardiac arrest on Saturday as Manchester United dropped points in their push for a Premier League top-four place with a 0-0 draw against Watford.
Earlier, Tottenham hammered Leeds 4-0 to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for next season’s Champions League while Burnley earned a point in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank brought on Denmark playmaker Eriksen in the 52nd minute with his side trailing 2-0 at home to Newcastle after goals from Joelinton and Joseph Willock.
It was the first appearance in a competitive match for the 30-year-old former Tottenham and Inter Milan playmaker since he collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 match against Finland in June.
Eriksen has been fitted with a implantable cardioverter defibrillator but was unable to continue his career with Italian champions Inter, with ICDs not permitted in Serie A.
The midfielder was given a standing ovation by the crowd and both sets of players at the Brentford Community Stadium as he made his entrance.
But he was unable to influence the scoreline, with Newcastle’s 2-0 win lifting them above Brentford, who are now just three points above the relegation zone.
– United draw –
Manchester United dropped two points at home to relegation-threatened Watford despite dominating the game.
The result leaves them in fourth spot in the Premier League but they are now just two points ahead of Arsenal, who have three games in hand.
Players from both sides stood together with a sign saying “peace” in six languages ahead of their game at Old Trafford in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian flags were also waved among the crowd as a show of support for the beleaguered nation.
Ralf Rangnick’s team dominated possession at Old Trafford but lacked a cutting edge and failed to score despite 22 shots.
In the early kick-off, Tottenham blitzed Leeds to put a smile back on the face of Antonio Conte and ratchet up the pressure on Marcelo Bielsa.
The visitors, who had lost four of their previous five league matches, were 3-0 up at half-time after goals from Matt Doherty, new recruit Dejan Kulusevski and Harry Kane.
A late strike from Son Heung-min following a pinpoint pass from Kane completed the rout at Elland Road.
It also brightened the mood of Spurs boss Conte, who insisted on Friday he was committed to his job after comments following their midweek loss at Burnley had cast doubt on his future at the club.
“We had to put great desire and determination in every game from the start until the end and today we saw this,” the Italian told the BBC. “My teams are not soft. My teams need to be strong.
“I am not here to only enjoy football, I am here because I want to be something important for this club. I want to be competitive.
“My words were only this because I am not a coach to come here just to enjoy. I want to be very clear of this for everybody, my players and the people around us.”
Crystal Palace took an early lead against Burnley through Jeffrey Schlupp but the visitors were level shortly after half-time after a Luka Milivojevic own goal.
Aston Villa’s match at Brighton kicked off late due to traffic issues around the Amex stadium.
Matty Cash put Villa in front in the first half and lifted his shirt to reveal a message to Poland international team-mate Tomasz Kedziora, who plays his club football for Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine.
Everton host leaders Manchester City in the late-kick off.
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