Ricardo Pereira scored with a sweet late strike for Leicester City to beat Premier League champions Manchester City and overshadow Bernardo Silva’s first-half goal. Portugal defender Ricardo’s second goal of the season gave Leicester a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium.
Elsewhere on Boxing Day, Cristiano Ronaldo saved Juventus’ unbeaten record in Serie A with the equalising goal in their 2-2 draw at Atalanta in Italy, while Marco Silva’s Everton returned to form with an emphatic 5-1 win at Burnley.
Former Porto man Ricardo Pereira was again selected at right-back as Leicester secured unexpected back-to-back victories, following up their 1-0 victory at Chelsea last weekend by coming from behind to beat City. The home side initially went behind when Bernardo Silva finished calmly with his left foot having been found by Sergio Aguero on 14 minutes.
Marc Albrighton levelled things up five minutes later and the sides remained tied at 1-1 until ten minutes from time when Ricardo stuck. A Leicester corner was cleared to the edge of the box to Ricardo, who hit a crisp right-footed shot past ex Benfica goalkeeper Ederson in the City goal to give the home side all three points.
Ricardo, who was later fouled by City’s Fabian Delph in a challenge that saw the England international sent off, was modest in his post-match interview when asked about his goal. “When I received the ball, I had to shoot or else there would be a counter or something like that, and fortunately it was a good goal,” he said.
“Two wins over Christmas time is very good, but we have to think about the next game and continue like this. Yes [we had belief when we went behind] as we had a lot of time ahead of us, we know we have a lot of quality and we believe until the end. We know they are a difficult team, but if we work together, we can score goals.”
City man Bernardo, who scored his 5th league goal of the season, was naturally disappointed with the defeat, which after last weekend’s surprise loss to Crystal Palace leaves the champions seven points behind Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. “We have to improve. We have to see what mistakes we are making and try not to make them in the next games. We have lost games we shouldn’t in a race for the title, but now it’s done and we have to look forward,” said the Portuguese.
Ronaldo saves 10-man Juve
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of his most important goals of the season so far after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Juventus at Atalanta in Serie A. Juventus trailed 2-1 when Ronaldo was introduced with twenty-five minutes left to play and his goal maintained the Bianconeri’s unbeaten record and increased their lead at the top of the table.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri left the Portugal captain on the bench for the tricky trip to Bergamo, and it looked a solid gamble when the visitors went ahead through a Berat Djimsiti own goal after less than two minutes. However, a brace from Colombian Duvan Zapata either side of a red card for Juve midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur left the champions in serious trouble.
Ronaldo emerged from the bench on 65 minutes and was on-hand to nod his team level on 78 minutes to make it 2-2. Ronaldo’s reaction to the goal, retrieving the ball and taking it back to the centre circle, was a clear message that he was not merely satisfied with a point. Indeed Juventus briefly thought they had snatched a winner late on, only for the linesman’s flag to disallow Leonardo Bonucci’s goal.
Silva praises Everton fans after rout
Everton recorded their best league away victory since 1985 with a stunning 5-1 victory at Burnley in the Premier League. The win was a much-needed boost for Everton boss Marco Silva, having seen his side lose 6-2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend to compound a winless run.
The Toffees, who had André Gomes in midfield, raced into a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes at Turf Moor thanks to goals from Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Gylfi Sigurosson. Burnley pulled one back before half time but Digne struck again with 20 minutes left and Brazilian Richarlison capped things off with the 5th goal in stoppage time.
“The way our fans supported our team was really important,” Silva said after the game. “They deserved the three points and this win, and so did our players. The fans applauded our team as we came onto the pitch. I know they always do because they are always supporting us, but it was a tough result to take last time.
“One of the biggest things [I told the players after Spurs] when we did our analysis was that inside of them was the same guy of three weeks ago, and that I was proud of them. I said that I was the same coach, who still believed in them, and that we never give up as a team.
“Our last result was tough but we didn’t have any doubts about our qualities and our team. We had a bad afternoon [against Spurs] but we answered it well. The players proved it on the pitch, not just with their quality but with their commitment as well.”
Dalot in action; Nuno pleased with Wolves
Diogo Dalot was given his first chance to impress new Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in United’s 3-1 victory over Huddersfield at Old Trafford. Former Porto right-back Dalot was an unused substitute during Solskjaer’s first match since replacing José Mourinho last weekend against Cardiff but started against Huddersfield.
Dalot had an excellent opportunity to score his opening United goal in the first half but could not find the target from inside the box after brilliant set-up play from Marcus Rashford. Dalot was substituted early in the second period, but with Solskjaer keen to emphasise his belief in young talent the Portuguese defender should get plenty more chances during the remainder of the campaign.
Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espírito Santo says he was pleased with his team’s second-half performance after they snatched a late point at Fulham in the lunchtime kick-off. Wolves scored five minutes from time through midfielder Romain Saiss to earn a 1-1 draw that saw them end the day in 10th place in the table.
“When they scored, I really felt it was unfair because we had so much of the ball,” said the former Porto coach, who selected Rui Patrício and João Moutinho in his line-up, while Rúben Vinagre, Hélder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro were Nuno’s choices from the bench in the second half.
“Even though we didn’t have clear chances, we were closer to achieving a goal. I think we were rewarded when we scored, but it was tough, a tough game.
“I think it proves, that as the season goes on, these kind of games will be more and more likely because the results mean so much to the teams. The football is not so open and well played.
“I’m very happy with the second half performance, but first half I think we didn’t quite get in the game.”
By Sean Gillen