LONDON, Sept 24: Despite having been Chelsea’s second choice in the transfer window, Alvaro Morata is quickly proving his doubters wrong in the English Premier League.
The former Real Madrid forward showcased his skills with a hat trick as Chelsea defeated Stoke 4-0 on Saturday, drawing him level with Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero with six league goals.
“Alvaro took his goals very well, which for a striker is very important,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. “I am pleased with the team also because it means we are creating chances for our strikers.”
Aguero and Lukaku were on the scoresheet, too, as Manchester City and Manchester United won but stayed unbeaten by different paths.
City’s latest victim was winless Crystal Palace by 5-0, while United ground down Southampton 1-0 thanks to Lukaku’s first-half strike.
Liverpool overcame its leaky defense to secure a first win in September as Philippe Coutinho starred in a 3-2 win at Leicester.
Tottenham and Watford also maintained perfect away records. Spurs withstood a late West Ham comeback to win at the London Stadium 3-2, Watford won at Swansea 2-1, Everton came from behind to defeat Bournemouth 2-1, and Burnley and Huddersfield played out a goalless draw.
MORATA, MORATA, MORATA
Morata’s first three Premier League goals came via his head, but a cool side-footed finish after just two minutes gave Chelsea the lead at Britannia Stadium.
His second was even better as he picked up the ball on the left, drove past two Stoke defenders and curled his shot past Jack Butland.
His third was simple, but the Spain striker’s movement was on display as he slipped his marker to find space to tap in Cesar Azpilicueta’s knockdown.
If there was any remaining sadness over Diego Costa’s exit from Chelsea, which was finally resolved this week, Morata ensured his compatriot was forgotten on Saturday.
Pedro scored Chelsea’s other goal as Antonio Conte’s side maintained its perfect away record in the league, keeping it within three points of United and City at the top of the table.
CITY CAN’T STOP SCORING
City scored five or more goals for a third consecutive league game as the impressive Leroy Sane opened the scoring before Raheem Sterling added a double against Palace.
Aguero maintained his goal-a-game record and substitute Fabian Delph rounded off the scoring, to leave Roy Hodgson’s Palace pointless and goalless after six games.
LUKAKU: GOALS, CHANTS CONTINUE
Lukaku scored the only goal but United’s win in Southampton was overshadowed by the continued use of a racist chant in support of Lukaku by United fans.
The club said it will review CCTV footage to identify supporters who sang the lyrics despite Lukaku’s pre-match request for it to stop.
Days after being knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester, Liverpool went to King Power Stadium and beat Leicester in an action-packed encounter.
Coutinho laid on an assist for Mohamed Salah before curling a stunning free kick into the top corner to put Juergen Klopp’s side in control.
However, Liverpool’s fragile defense was once more exposed as Shinji Okazaki pulled a goal back.
Jordan Henderson restored the Reds’ two-goal advantage but Jamie Vardy got Leicester back into contention just a minute later. Vardy then squandered a chance to secure the Foxes a draw when his penalty was saved by Simon Mignolet.
PERFECT ON THE ROAD
Harry Kane’s double and Christian Eriksen’s goal appeared to give Spurs an unassailable lead, but a Javier Hernandez header quickly followed by Serge Aurier’s sending off made for a tense finale.
Cheikhou Kouyate headed West Ham within touching distance but Tottenham held on to make it three wins from three away from home.
Watford matched that record with an equally dramatic 2-1 victory over Swansea as Richarlison struck a 90th-minute winner.
Andre Gray earlier scored his first goal for Watford before Tammy Abraham came off the bench to level the game.
IN FROM THE COLD
Oumar Niasse came off the bench to score twice as Everton came from behind to defeat Bournemouth and end a run of three successive defeats.
Niasse was deemed surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman last summer, but with Everton struggling for goals, the Senegal forward was given a chance.
He grabbed it with both hands, ending the Toffees’ run of 6 1/2 hours without a league goal, before notching the winner five minutes later. AP