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  5. Premier League: Liverpool thrash Newcastle; Leicester edge Manchester CIty

Premier League: Liverpool thrash Newcastle; Leicester edge Manchester CIty

Defending champion Manchester City, which started the day in second position, suffered its second surprise loss in four days when it was beaten at Leicester 2-1.

AP Reported by: AP
New Delhi Updated on: December 27, 2018 15:34 IST
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Liverpool are six points clear at the top of the table

Rafael Benitez has little doubt Liverpool is ready to end a 28-year wait to win the English title.

While Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp refused to get carried away after his team surged six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday, Benitez was certain his former club had the quality to stay in first place for the rest of the season.

"They showed they are good enough to win the title," Benitez said after watching his Newcastle side being dismantled at Anfield. "They have a very good team but a very good squad. When you want to win a league title you need to be consistent and they can do it."

Defending champion Manchester City, which started the day in second position, suffered its second surprise loss in four days when it was beaten at Leicester 2-1.

Tottenham followed up a 6-2 romp at Everton on Sunday with another big win as a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth took the London club one point ahead of Manchester City in the standings after 19 rounds, the midway point of the season.

Paul Pogba grabbed two goals to help interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrate his first home match in charge of sixth-placed Manchester United with a 3-1 victory against bottom club Huddersfield.

Eden Hazard scored his 100th and 101st goals for the club as Chelsea won at Watford 2-1, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his 13th league goal in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Brighton.

Fulham climbed off the foot of the standings by drawing with Wolverhampton 1-1. A double from Lucas Digne led Everton to win at Burnley 5-1 and Crystal Palace, which beat Manchester City on Saturday, drew with Cardiff 0-0.

LOW-KEY KLOPP

Newcastle last won in the league at Liverpool in 1994, and its latest chance was damaged as early as the 11th minute thanks to a striker's finish from defender Dejan Lovren.

Three minutes after the break, Paul Dummett hauled down Mohamed Salah in the box and Liverpool's top scorer bagged his sixth goal in five matches by converting the penalty.

Xherdan Shaqiri made it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go, then substitute Fabinho bundled home a corner as the home team kept its 12th clean sheet of the campaign, the same number it achieved when last winning the title in 1990.

Klopp, however, played down the significance of Liverpool's six-point lead.

"That means nothing," he said. "I had no idea how any other teams were playing. Afterwards I got the results and I can say it didn't do a lot for me. It is just information. It's good we have six more points, but that is pretty much all."

GUARDIOLA GLOOM

Manchester City recalled Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne after Saturday's shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace but it had little effect as Pep Guardiola's men lost again at Leicester.

Bernardo Silva gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead before Leicester, which caused an upset of its own at the weekend by winning at Chelsea 1-0, rallied with goals from Marc Albrighton and Roberto Pereira.

To add to City's troubles, defender Fabian Delph was sent off for a bad tackle near the end.

"The reality is we have lost three in four," Guardiola said. "We have made an incredible amount of points at this stage and if we can get the same, or more, in the second half of the season then we are fighting to win the championship. But at the moment, the reality is two teams are better than us."

HAZARD-OUS RECORD

Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard became the 10th player to score 100 goals for the club when his double clinched a 2-1 win at Watford in the English Premier League on Wednesday.

Coach Maurizio Sarri criticized Chelsea's players after Saturday's shock home loss against Leicester and they produced the reaction he was looking for at Vicarage Road.

Brazil playmaker Willian hit the post from an acute angle after rounding goalkeeper Ben Foster before Hazard showed his teammate how it should be done in first-half stoppage time.

Hazard was sent racing clear of the Watford defense and slotted the ball into an empty net after dribbling his way round Foster.

Fourth-placed Chelsea was rocked by an equalizer on the stroke of halftime, though. The visitors cleared a corner to the edge of the penalty area and Roberto Pereyra drilled a fine volley low into the bottom corner of the net.

David Luiz then escaped without punishment for a robust challenge in the area on Watford's former Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu.

Referee Martin Atkinson looked more kindly on Hazard when he collided with Foster in the 58th minute and the Belgium forward picked himself up to score from the penalty spot.

Hazard could also have had two assists late on, but Willian missed a good chance and N'Golo Kante drilled his shot wide after going through one-on-one with Foster.

"Scoring 101 goals with this club is amazing, something I will never forget," Hazard said. "Now I want to score more for this club and try to be a legend like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and John Terry."

Watford's defeat left them ninth in the standings.

SON SHINES

Two goals by Son Heung-min and one apiece from Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane helped Tottenham outclass Bournemouth 5-0 and record an eighth win in nine league games.

Just like Klopp, however, Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino refused to get overly excited: "It doesn't mean too much to us to be second or third, or first, I think the most important thing is where you finish in May."

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