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Leeds edge Fulham in seven-goal thriller

LONDON: Newly-promoted Leeds United continued their barnstorming return to the Premier League as they claimed their first points with a thrilling 4-3 win over Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.

After a 4-3 loss to champions Liverpool on the opening day, Leeds, back in the top flight after a 16-year absence, produced more vibrant attacking football along with defensive jitters.

Helda Costa gave them a flying start only for Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty to level for Fulham before Mateusz Klich restored their lead also with a spot kick before halftime.

Patrick Bamford’s clinical finish in the 50th minute gave Leeds breathing space and Costa’s sumptuous second goal of the game six minutes later had Leeds running riot.

But Scott Parker’s Fulham, promoted via the playoffs, were far from finished as goals by substitute Bobby Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic in quick succession kept the result in the balance.

With the game being played at a punishing high tempo Leeds lived dangerously at times but hung on for their first top-flight victory since April 2004.

Like Leeds, Fulham’s style was easy on the eye but Parker’s side now have no points from two games, having conceded seven.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s James Rodriguez scored his first Premier League goal and Dominic Calvert-Lewin bagged a hat-trick as Everton thrashed 10-man West Bromwich Albion 5-2 at Goodison Park.

West Brom started brightly and opened the scoring through Grady Diangana, but when Calvert-Lewin equalised following an intervention from the Video Assistant Referee, Everton took control.

They scored five goals in 35 minutes as West Brom capitulated following a needless red card for defender Kieran Gibbs.

Rodriguez whipped Everton in front from the edge of the box, and Mic­hael Keane and Calvert-Lewin ensured it was two wins from two in the Premier League this season.

It all started well for the visitors when Diangana fired past home goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after running 60 metres for his first top-flight goal, and they might have been 2-0 up when Jake Livermore struck a post.

Everton found an equaliser through Calvert-Lewin’s clever close-range back heel that was initially disallowed for offside, a decision over-ruled by VAR as the touch into the striker’s path came via a slight deflection off West Brom defender Darnell Furlong.

The home side was in front just before halftime as Richarlison wriggled past a couple of challenges before feeding Rodriguez, who speared a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Gibbs was sent-off shortly afterwards and could have no complaints as he pushed Rodriguez in the face, while Baggies boss Bilic was similarly punished by referee Mike Dean for his vehement complaints at halftime.

West Brom equalised minutes into the second period with a free-kick of real quality from Matheus Pereira, but Michael Keane restored Evertons lead with a tap-in after the ball fell loose in the box following Lucas Dignes free-kick.

Rodriguez’s delightful pass then put Richarlison behind the West Brom defence and his cross was bundled over the line by Calvert-Lewin.

The striker completed his hat-trick with a header from Dignes corner as Everton threatened to run riot.

The home side appeared sloppy at times compared with their 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur in their opener, but they have continued to improve dramatically from last season.

For West Brom, however, eight goals conceded in two games shows the measure of their task since winning promotion to the Premier League.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2020

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