Box-office Mourinho center of attention again in EPL

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ManU coach Jose Mourinho, right, encourages his team during their English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge stadium in London Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

London (AP) – Deflated after seeing his team concede a last-minute goal against his former club, Jose Mourinho looked up from his seat in the dugout to see a rival coach taunting him just a few meters away.

So began a chain of events that offered another illustration of why the Manchester United manager remains the biggest box-office draw in English soccer.

In a tempestuous ending to United’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday, Mourinho leapt up and attempted to confront Chelsea technical assistant Marco Ianni. But he was held back by security staff and members of his own coaching team.

Chelsea fans reacted by aiming vitriol and abuse from the stands at Mourinho, the man who oversaw the most successful period in the London club’s history. Mourinho’s post-match response? To walk onto the field and hold three fingers up to the home support, signifying the three Premier League titles he won across two spells in charge of Chelsea.

Then, of course, came those must-watch post-match Mourinho interviews when he played the victim, said Chelsea apologized to him, and then belittled Ianni.

“Don’t do what everyone does and say, ‘It’s Mourinho who does things,'” he said. “I don’t know his name, I don’t need to know. Everything is fine.”

United’s latest impressive rally might be overlooked amid the late-match shenanigans involving their manager, who was seconds away from the sweetest of victories.

Having come from two goals down to beat Newcastle 3-2 before the international break, United again responded well to going behind following Antonio Rudiger’s 21st-minute goal at Stamford Bridge.

Anthony Martial, again preferred to Alexis Sanchez, scored twice in the second half but United were denied victory by Ross Barkley’s goal in the sixth minute of injury time.

It ensured United remained in mid-table and preserved Chelsea’s unbeaten start after nine games.

TOUGH RETURN FOR HART

On his first return to a club where he won two league titles in a decade of service, Joe Hart was afforded a standing ovation by Manchester City’s fans when he ran out at Etihad Stadium to play for new club Burnley. He would receive a replica mosaic and a lifetime season ticket, having had a training field dedicated to him on Friday.

The goalkeeper wasn’t treated so well during the game.

Hart conceded five goals as City strolled to a 5-0 win thanks to scores by Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, and Leroy Sane. It was a seventh victory in nine games for the champions, who stayed in first place on goal difference from Liverpool.

With his 149th league goal for City, Aguero passed Frank Lampard and Alan Shearer in the tally of most Premier League goals for a single club. Only Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry are ahead of him.

SALAH SCORES

With just his second goal since August, Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool kept pace with Man City thanks to a 1-0 win at Huddersfield.

Salah is unlikely to repeat his scoring exploits from last season, when he netted 44 in all competitions — 32 coming in the Premier League to leave him as the top scorer.

But four goals in nine games is still a decent return for the Egypt forward, his latest coming when he ran onto Xherdan Shaqiri’s through-ball and slotted a right-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Liverpool were without injured forward Sadio Mane, and striker Roberto Firmino came off the bench only late on.

TOTTENHAM GRIND

Harry Kane is still to hit top form. Tottenham have been hit by lots of injuries. Central midfield remains a concern.

Despite all that, Spurs have made their best start to a Premier League, with Erik Lamela’s goal earning Mauricio Pochettino’s side a hard-fought 1-0 win at West Ham and a seventh victory in nine games.

Tottenham are tied for points with Chelsea and only two points off first place.

STRUGGLING TEAMS

Newcastle cannot win a game. Fulham cannot stop conceding.

By losing at home to Brighton 1-0, Newcastle slipped to last place in the standings and have just two points from nine games so far. Taking in the end of last season, Rafa Benitez’s side have just one win in their last 15 games in all competitions.

Fulham have now conceded 25 goals — six more than any other Premier League team — after losing 4-2 at Cardiff, who came into the game without a victory in their first season back in England’s top division.

Fulham replaced Cardiff in the bottom three.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ six-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 home loss to Watford, with Etienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra the scorers.

Bournemouth and Southampton drew 0-0 in the other game.