On another goal-filled day in a league where defences have temporarily gone missing, United beat Brighton 3-2 in a match that had pretty much everything to register its first victory of the campaign.
Chelsea then came from three goals down after 27 minutes to draw at West Bromwich Albion 3-3, with Tammy Abraham netting in the third minute of stoppage time. Forty-four goals were scored in the last round — a record haul since the division was reduced to 20 teams in 1995 — and it is already up to 15 from four games in this round with Everton winning at Crystal Palace 2-1 and Southampton beating Burnley 1-0 away.
Five of the goals came at Brighton’s Amex Stadium, and it should have been many, many more. Just ask Leandro Trossard, the Brighton midfielder who hit both posts and the crossbar in an uncommon triple.
With his teammates Adam Webster and Solly March striking efforts against the bar and post, respectively, Brighton somehow managed to hit the goal frame on five occasions — a record since the Premier League statistics supplier Opta began compiling data in the 2003-04 season.
Still, Brighton looked like grabbing a draw few could have argued with when Solly March equalized in the fifth minute of stoppage time to make it 2-2. Yet there was still time for United to immediately break forward from the restart, force a corner, and then earn a penalty when Harry Maguire’s goalbound header glanced off the flailing arm of Brighton striker Neal Maupay before being cleared off the line.
Referee Chris Kavanagh immediately blew the final whistle, only to be surrounded by United players calling for handball to be given. Kavanagh reviewed the incident on the pitchside monitor and awarded a penalty, much to the anger of Brighton’s players who remonstrated.
When the chaos died down, Fernandes kept his cool to convert from the spot. After scoring a record 14 penalties last season, United is already up and running on the spot-kick counter for the 2020-21 campaign in the craziest way imaginable.
“We got away with one," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “Maybe one point we deserved; we didn’t deserve more.” DEBUT TO FORGET Thiago Silva had a Premier League debut to forget for Chelsea. The Brazil center back coughed up a simple pass to let Callum Robinson run through and score his and West Brom's second goal on its way to an unlikely three-goal lead at The Hawthorns with less than a half-hour played.
Second-half goals by Mason Mount, substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi and then Abraham earned a point for Chelsea, but it was a worrying display by a team which has been tipped to possibly challenge for the title after spending nearly $300 million on new players.
“We’re still finding our way with new players and a lack of preseason,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. “Today is part of the process of getting better.” Thiago Silva, who made his Chelsea debut in the English League Cup in midweek, was given the armband for the game but was substituted after 73 minutes.
HELPING HAND Everton is top of the nascent standings with a maximum nine points, and has a stricter handball ruling to thank. Richarlison converted what proved to be the winning goal against Palace from the spot in the 40th after Joel Ward became the latest player to fall foul of the newly adopted interpretation of defensive handballs, when the ball struck his left arm after being headed on by Lucas Digne.
Because his arm was adjudged to have made his body unnaturally bigger, a penalty was awarded and Richarlison struck his effort into the top corner. “I find it very disappointing that the game I love and believe in is being reduced to this level,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said. “Every week, games are being decided on so-called penalty decisions for handball which are definitely not handball.”
Hodgson said it was “killing the game.” Robin Koch, Victor Lindelof, Matt Doherty and Maupay are other players to have given away penalties for defensive handball this season since the Premier League decided to fall in line with the rest of European soccer and apply the ruling in a stricter way rather than judging it on intent.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave Everton the lead with his fifth goal of the season before Cheikhou Kouyaté equalized. It's the first time Everton has won its first three games of a season since 1993. INGS LOOKING GOOD
Danny Ings looks to be making another run for the Golden Boot. The striker made it three goals in three games with the winner against Burnley, his former club. Ings scored 22 last season, one behind Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy of Leicester.
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