Premier League | Liverpool go top, Man United rally to beat Villa

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Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund celebrates scoring the side’s third goal during the English Premier League match against Aston Villa at the Old Trafford stadium on December 26, 2023

Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund celebrates scoring the side’s third goal during the English Premier League match against Aston Villa at the Old Trafford stadium on December 26, 2023
| Photo Credit: AP

Liverpool moved back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at struggling Burnley on Tuesday as Manchester United gave their fans some Boxing Day cheer by rallying to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

There was little festive joy for Newcastle United though as they suffered a surprise 3-1 home defeat by Nottingham Forest for whom Chris Wood scored a hat-trick.

Luton Town won the day’s big relegation battle — beating Sheffield United 3-2 thanks to two own goals — while form-team Bournemouth won again to reach the top half of the table.

Liverpool have now won all six of their Premier League games on Boxing Day under Juergen Klopp and while three points always looked likely against Burnley, it was not until substitute Diogo Jota’s 90th-minute goal that the points were sealed.

Darwin Nunez’s precision finish after six minutes gave Liverpool a flying start — his first Premier League goal for almost two months. Liverpool had goals by Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott ruled out after VAR checks and Mohamed Salah rattled the crossbar as the visitors dominated.

But 19th-placed Burnley rallied in the second half and there was a sense of relief for Klopp when a sweeping move ended with Jota slotting in from a tight angle late on.

Liverpool overtook Arsenal to move into first place with 42 points from 19 games. Arsenal are on 40 ahead of their London derby with West Ham United on Thursday.

“Whatever the outside world thinks, it is really intense — and coming here and playing the game we played is absolutely exceptional,” Klopp told reporters.

“It’s exceptional as well that we didn’t score more goals… actually, we did but for different reasons they took them away.”

On hitting the top, Klopp said: “42 points, that’s really pleasing, to be honest. That’s really cool because the first part of the season (is) done and it was absolutely alright what we did. Not perfect but it was alright.”

Hojlund scores winner

Manchester United turned halftime boos into a fulltime ovation at Old Trafford as they came back from two goals down to hand third-placed Villa their first loss in 11 games in all competitions.

Alejandro Garnacho scored a brace to cancel out first-half goals from John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker before Rasmus Hojlund clinched the winner with his first Premier League goal in the 82nd minute.

“I said it before the game, I said it during halftime, keep believing and we will win this game,” said United manager Erik ten Hag, whose team moved up to sixth place.

Newcastle’s punishing schedule and injury list appears to be coming home to roost as they lost for the fifth time in seven games in all competitions.

Wood only managed five Premier League goals for Newcastle during his time on Tyneside but returned to haunt his old club and secure a huge three points for Forest.

Forest’s first win under new coach Nuno Espirito Santo lifted them to 16th in the standings on 17 points, five above the relegation zone, while Newcastle’s fourth defeat in their last five league games left them eighth on 29 points.

Newcastle took the lead in the 23rd minute when Alexander Isak stroked home a penalty he had earned.

Wood, who was loaned to Forest by Newcastle in January before being signed permanently, levelled just before the break with a close-range tap-in from Anthony Elanga’s pass.

A counter-attack in the 53rd minute ended with Wood dinking a superb finish over Martin Dubravka. The New Zealand international completed his hat-trick on the hour mark when he rounded Dubravka and slotted home.

In the basement battle Jack Robinson and Anis Ben Slimane scored own goals in the final 13 minutes as Sheffield United let a late lead slip to lose 3-2 at Luton, who are now just one point behind 17th-placed Everton.

Alfie Doughty had given Luton the lead but goals by Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic turned the game on its head.

But Robinson flicked a cross into his own net and Slimane deflected a shot past his goalkeeper.

Bournemouth moved into the top half as goals by Justin Kluivert, Dominic Solanke and Luis Sinisterra earned them a 3-0 victory over Fulham.

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