Premier League round-up: Leaders Leicester go five points clear with late win, Chelsea come back to beat Southampton, Aston Villa lose again
Leicester 1-0 Norwich
Premier League leaders Leicester City have gone five points clear in the title race thanks to super-sub Leonardo Ulloa’s last-minute winner against Norwich at the King Power Stadium.
After a two-week break from Premier League action, all eyes were on the Foxes to keep up their title challenge in this tricky clash, which it proved against a plucky Canaries side.
Norwich dominated in large spells away from home against a mostly limp Leicester, with the likes of the Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater all out of sorts.
But the visitors failed to convert their chances, with Cameron Jerome heading wide and Nathan Redmond firing off target from distance.
Leicester failed to really test John Ruddy until Ulloa’s introduction, the Argentine replacing Daniel Amartey on 78 minutes.
His presence turned the tide for the Foxes, and he was there at the right time, as in so many times throughout his Leicester career, to convert Marc Albrighton’s cross at the far post to claim all three points.
Southampton 1-2 Chelsea
Branislav Ivanovic was the hero for Chelsea as the Blues came from a goal behind to seal a 2-1 victory at Southampton which lifted them up to 11th in the table.
Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long put the Saints in front in the first-half with a beautiful chipped finish, pouncing on Baba Rahman’s defensive error and clipping the ball over Thibaut Courtois.
Saints were good value for their lead and did well to keep Chelsea mostly at bay after the break, with Diego Costa volleying wide with the Blues’ best chance.
But they were soon back in the game as a Cesc Fabregas cross eluded goalkeeper Fraser Forster and crept in for the equaliser.
It was the first goal Southampton conceded in seven games – since the 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace on January 9.
Chelsea smelled blood after the equaliser and streaked forward in search of the winner. Willian went close with a drilled low shot which dribbled just wide, but the Brazilian was soon involved again, as his delivery was headed in by Ivanovic in the 89th minute to seal a late three points.
Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa
Aston Villa are perhaps out of chances to save their season after Stoke ran out 2-1 winners at the Britannia Stadium thanks to a Marko Arnautovic double.
The Austrian forward opened the scoring minutes in the 51st minute from the penalty spot, thumping down the middle after Phil Bardsley was hauled down by Ashley Westwood in the area.
His second came just five minutes later, when he headed past Mark Bunn at the second attempt after neat build-up play from the Potters.
Leandro Bacuna netted a late goal to give the Villans hope of an unlikely comeback, but Stoke held on to their lead to leave Aston Villa still eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Watford 0-0 Bournemouth
Watford and Bournemouth were both guilty of glaring misses as the two sides played out an entertaining goalless draw.
In an afternoon where ‘still 0-0’ was tending on twitter, most of the action in Saturday’s 3pm kick-offs came late on, but fans at Vicarage Road were the only ones who failed to see the ball hit the back of the net.
The Cherries were boosted by the return of summer signing Max Gradel, who made his first appearance since suffering ligament damage in August.
The midfielder was a bright spark for the visitors, and his surging run had the Hornets scrambling at the back but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Watford top striker Odion Ighalo has the hosts’ best opportunity but he too failed to hit the target as his header sailed over the crossbar, while Artur Boruc was forced to palm away his sweetly struck free-kick.