Premier League: Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic score in Chelsea win; Newcastle ease past 10-man Sheffield United

The result left Chelsea fourth on 51 points from 30 games, five ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, while Villa’s hopes of avoiding the drop were dented as they stayed second-bottom on 26 points, one point adrift of the safety zone.

Reuters June 21, 2020 23:42:28 IST
Premier League: Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic score in Chelsea win; Newcastle ease past 10-man Sheffield United

Chelsea boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four as second-half goals from substitute Christian Pulisic and striker Olivier Giroud secured a 2-1 comeback win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Sunday.

Premier League Olivier Giroud Christian Pulisic score in Chelsea win Newcastle ease past 10man Sheffield United

Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring Chelsea's second goal. AP

The result left Chelsea fourth on 51 points from 30 games, five ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, while Villa’s hopes of avoiding the drop were dented as they stayed second-bottom on 26 points, one point adrift of the safety zone.

Defender Kortney Hause had fired the home side ahead against the run of play in the 43rd minute with his first Premier League goal, scrambling in a close-range rebound after Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga parried an Anwar El Ghazi shot.

Dominant Chelsea had 76% of possession in the opening half and missed a string of chances, with Villa keeper Oerjan Nyland twice denying Mason Mount while Mateo Kovacic volleyed inches wide from the edge of the penalty area.

American Pulisic equalised on the hour, five minutes after coming on, when he stabbed a Cesar Azpilicueta cross off the underside of the bar at the far post as Villa’s defence finally cracked under intense Chelsea pressure.

Azpilicueta delivered another telling assist two minutes later, threading the ball to Giroud from a flowing move and the Frenchman’s deflected shot on the turn gave Nyland no chance.

Newcastle ease past 10-man Sheffield United

Newcastle beat 10-man Sheffield United 3-0 to virtually guarantee their top-flight status for another year and make the club an even more attractive option for their controversial potential buyers.

Newcastle capitalized on the 50th-minute sending-off of Sheffield United centre back John Egan for a second yellow card to score through Allan Saint-Maximin five minutes later, Matt Ritchie in the 69th and Joelinton in the 78th.

The win at an empty St James’ Park lifted Newcastle to 38 points, 11 clear of the relegation zone with eight matches remaining.

The future of Newcastle has been one of the big talking points during football's three-month shutdown, with Premier League officials currently deciding whether to approve a takeover of the northeast club by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund.

A decision on the takeover is expected in the coming weeks, by which time Newcastle might have mathematically ensured their survival and secured a fourth straight season in the lucrative top division.

Sheffield United were looking for a win that would have lifted the team into fifth place, currently a Champions League qualification spot pending Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year European ban for a serious breach of financial fair play rules.

This was the visitors’ second game since the restart, after drawing 0-0 at Aston Villa on Wednesday, and the game turned on the decision to hand Egan a second booking for pulling back Joelinton as they fought to reach the ball after a long clearance by Newcastle.

Five minutes later, Ritchie played a ball across the area, Sheffield United left-back Enda Stevens completely missed his kick, and Saint-Maximin applied a finish at the far post past goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

The winger marked the goal by kneeling and raising his right arm into the air. All players, coaches and match officials did the same after the first whistle was blown in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ritchie added a goal of his own with a fierce strike from the edge of the area, before Joelinton made up for an embarrassing early effort — when he was clean through on goal — by sliding in to convert Miguel Almiron’s cross.

Sheffield United stayed in seventh place, two points behind fifth-place Manchester United.

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