United, Chelsea rely on strokes of fortune in EPL

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Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal Gross, left, and Manchester United's Marcus Rashford in action during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, Saturday Nov. 25. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross, left, and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford in action during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, Saturday Nov. 25. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

Liverpool, England (AP) — Manchester United and Chelsea needed fortunate goals to maintain their status as the closest challengers to rampant leaders Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday.

Ashley Young’s long-range shot looped up off a defender and spun into the far corner to earn second-place United a 1-0 win over Brighton, for their eighth consecutive victory at Old Trafford.

Chelsea claimed only a point from a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the day’s standout game and again there was luck involved, substitute Willian’s attempted cross to the far post soaring into the top corner for an 85th-minute equalizer.

Still, it was another good day for City, even though the leaders aren’t playing until Sunday at Huddersfield.

United might have moved five points behind but the Anfield draw saw two more possible title rivals drop points, while Tottenham’s travails at Wembley Stadium continued with a 1-1 draw against lowly West Bromwich Albion.

There were also wins for Watford and Crystal Palace.

Here’s a look at the action:

WHOSE GOAL?

With United struggling to break through Brighton’s defence, they found inspiration from an unlikely source in left back Young. The utility player picked up a clearance on the edge of the box and shot into the top corner, via the sprawling Lewis Dunk.

“It’s taken a deflection,” said Young, who disagreed with the award of an own goal. “You know, it was going on target, so I’ll be claiming that.”

Brighton, who had been undefeated in their previous five league games, gave United one of their toughest challenges this season but were punished for failing to take their chances.

“I want to be honest and give them what they deserve, for me probably they deserve more than the result they got,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.

For United, their 39th home game in all competitions without defeat set a club record. The last loss at home was in September 2016 to Manchester City.

SALAH SCORES AGAIN

Chelsea were nearly left embarrassed by another former player.

Two months ago, it was Kevin De Bruyne — discarded prematurely by then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in 2014 — scoring the winner against the Blues for Manchester City.

Mo Salah was at Chelsea around the same period and made just six league starts before being sent on loan by Mourinho to Fiorentina and then Roma, which he eventually joined on a permanent deal. Chelsea might be regretting it.

Salah scored his 15th goal of the season, in just 20 appearances, when he ran onto Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass and slotted home in the 65th. He is the league top scorer on 10 goals and must go down as the signing of the summer.

Willian’s goal came within two minutes of coming on as a substitute.

“Everything was good,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, “until Willian crossed the ball.”

SPURS’ SEASONAL STRUGGLES

Tottenham will be looking forward to the end of November. For a second consecutive season, they have won just one of their three matches in the month.

Harry Kane equalized 15 minutes from the end after Salomon Rondon gave West Brom’s stand in-manager, Gary Megson, the perfect start. West Brom, who haven’t now won in 11 league games, were playing for the first time after firing Tony Pulis on Monday.

Tottenham are 10 points adrift of City.

HAPPY TRAVELERS

Watford’s run of scoring two goals in league away games this season ended at Newcastle, but they didn’t mind.

The Hornets went one better with a 3-0 win at St James’ Park. Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored either side of DeAndre Yedlin’s own goal to secure a comfortable win.

Watford have more away points in seven matches this season than the team managed in the whole of their previous campaign.

LATE WINNER

Mamadou Sakho scored in added time to give last-place Crystal Palace a 2-1 win over Stoke and move the team to within three points of safety.

Xherdan Shaqiri’s solo effort put Stoke in front but Ruben Loftus-Cheek equalized just three minutes later. Sakho reacted first when Yohan Cabaye’s effort came back off the post to seal only Palace’s second win of the season.

Also, Swansea and Bournemouth drew 0-0.