EPL PIX: Chelsea held; Watford relegated

Coady snatches stoppage-time equaliser for Wolves at Chelsea

Conor Coady struck deep into time added on to snatch a 2-2 draw for Wolverhampton Wanderers away at Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Londoners’ prospective new owners looked on from the Stamford Bridge stands.

Coady headed home a cross from substitute Chiquinho in the 97th minute — almost the last action of the game — after Francisco Trincao had pulled a goal back following Romelu Lukaku’s double strike for Chelsea.

Todd Boehly, the man heading the consortium that has agreed terms to take over the club in a 4.25 billion pounds ($5.24 billion) deal, looked crestfallen after cheering Chelsea’s goals enthusiastically.

The London side have won only twice in their last seven league games and have been struggling defensively as they seek to cling on to a Champions League spot with three games to go.

“Of course the taste of the game is bad,” Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta told Sky Sports.

“We are conceding too many goals in the last couple of games which is putting us in a difficult position in the race for the Champions League.”

Wolves, sensing vulnerability at the back, always looked dangerous on the break but suffered a double blow when out-of-form striker Lukaku scored twice in two second-half minutes.

Lukaku, who had not scored in the league since December, claimed his first from the penalty spot in the 56th minute after a lengthy VAR check concluded he had been fouled by Romain Saiss just inside the area.

He put his second away with a fine strike from 20 metres after being put through by Christian Pulisic.

Chelsea had dominated much of the game with Timo Werner and Lukaku having efforts saved by Jose Sa.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek had the ball in the net in the 38th minute following a goalmouth melee but after a long VAR check it was ruled offside.

Boehly, who had celebrated the goal, shrugged and looked confused.

Wolves, eighth in the Premier league table and trailing Chelsea by 17 points, caused the hosts problems in the first half with runs from Rayan Ait-Nouri and Ruben Neves.

And While Wolves’ manager Bruno Lage did not travel with the team after testing positive for COVID-19, his bench’s substitutions brought fresh legs and fresh ideas.

The visitors grabbed a goal back in the 79th minute through substitute Trincao and then upped the pressure, giving Chelsea, who sit third in the table, four points above Arsenal, who play struggling Leeds United on Sunday, a nervous finish.

The terms of Chelsea’s sale to the consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers’ part-owner Boehly and backed by a private equity firm Clearlake Capital were agreed earlier on Saturday.

The planned takeover, following Roman Abramovich’s decision to sell the club and the subsequent imposition of sanctions on the Russian billionaire by the British government, needs to be agreed by the Premier League.

Watford relegated after 1-0 defeat at Palace

Watford were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday after a 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace as Wilfried Zaha’s first-half penalty soured former manager Roy Hodgson’s return to Selhurst Park.

Palace were awarded a penalty following a VAR check for handball by Hassane Kamara and Zaha stepped up to slot home his 13th goal of the season after sending Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster the wrong way.

The visitors needed a win to keep alive their dwindling hopes of survival after last week’s 2-1 loss to Burnley left them 12 points adrift of the safety zone but their timid display meant Palace comfortably kept Watford at arm’s length.

Patrick Vieira’s side climbed up to ninth place on 44 points while Watford remained second-bottom with 22 points and will join Norwich in the Championship, dropping down to the second division for the second time in three seasons.

Palace controlled the contest from the start and had plenty of first-half chances, with Marc Guehi nodding wide while Michael Olise and Zaha also sent shots past the post before taking a deserved lead through the penalty.

Odsonne Edouard nearly scored a superb solo goal just after the hour mark, dancing past the Watford defence before hitting the post from a tight angle after his shot went through Foster’s legs.

Watford’s task of scoring at least two goals became even more difficult when they were reduced to 10 men after Kamara, booked for handball earlier, was shown another yellow card for a foul on Michael Olise with around 20 minutes remaining.

Foster kept Watford in the contest with a string of fine saves, ensuring Palace’s dominance did not reflect on the scoreline, but his team mates offered little in attack as they fell to their sixth straight league defeat.

Former Palace boss Hodgson, who left the Croydon club at the end of last season after four years in charge, arrived at Vicarage Road in January to try and save Watford from being relegated after they had slumped to 19th place.

Wins remained hard to come by under Hodgson, Watford’s third manager this season after Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri, as they beat only Southampton and Aston Villa this year in his 15 games in charge.

Hodgson, 74, is set to retire from top-level management when his contract at the Hertfordshire club expires at the end of the season, ending his long and distinguished career on a bitter note after suffering his first Premier League relegation.

Villa deepen Burnley’s relegation worries with 3-1 win at Turf Moor

A resurgent Aston Villa beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor in the Premier League on Saturday, halting the home side’s mini-revival under interim manager Mike Jackson with goals from Danny Ings, Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins.

Buendia sent Ings through on goal with a precise pass with seven minutes on the clock, and the former Burnley striker made no mistake as he slotted home past Nick Pope.

Villa doubled their lead in the 31st minute after Watkins combined with Lucas Digne, who cut the ball back across the box for Buendia to score via a slight deflection.

Burnley had won their last three league games under Jackson but were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal, with Wout Weghorst and Dwight McNeil guilty of missing chances in the first half.

Burnley remain in 16th place on 34 points but could find themselves back in the relegation zone if Arsenal fail to beat Leeds United and Everton beat Leicester City on Sunday. The win moved Villa provisionally up to 11th place.

Brentford stroll to 3-0 victory over Southampton

Two goals within 61 seconds spurred Brentford to a 3-0 Premier League victory over Southampton on Saturday.

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he prodded home after Ivan Toney diverted a Christian Eriksen corner in the defender’s direction.

Yoane Wissa then added the second by curling a shot past goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Kristoffer Ajer sealed the win for the hosts in the second half, shuffling past a Saints defender before coolly slotting under Forster’s legs.

A clean sheet for Thomas Frank’s side meant they recorded their joint biggest victory in the Premier League, equalling the winning margin in their 4-1 win at Chelsea.

Southampton had started the game brightly but faltered after Jansson scored.

They only had one shot on target fewer than the hosts and controlled 60% of the possession, but struggled to convert their chances into goals.

They came closest when Adam Armstrong fired into the back of the net in the first half, but was denied a goal after straying offside.

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