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Man U slips further from elite with Chelsea loss

January 19, 2014

LONDON (AP) — Manchester United’s title defense faltered further as a Samuel Eto’o-inspired Chelsea cast the champions further adrift from the Premier League elite with a 3-1 victory Sunday.

While Chelsea stayed two points behind leader Arsenal courtesy of Eto’o’s hat trick, seventh-place United slipped 14 points from the summit this weekend.

And the gap from the Champions League places is growing as well, with Liverpool six points ahead in fourth. Tottenham is level on points with Liverpool, but behind on goal difference after beating Swansea 3-1 in Sunday’s other game.

Changing managers has revitalized Tottenham, with Tim Sherwood collecting 16 out of 18 points since replacing Andre Villas-Boas, while David Moyes has now has overseen seven league losses this season after succeeding Alex Ferguson — two more than last year’s title-winning campaign.

“It’s a difficult task, but (it’s about) perseverance and keeping doing what’s right,” Moyes said. “I thought we did a lot of good things today. We have players to come back, and this is a project I know that I’m going to improve as it goes along.

“I was hoping to win more and be competing a bit more than we’ve been, but that’ll come.”

Having made a strong start, United was stunned by Chelsea going ahead against the run of play in the 17th minute.

Eto’o cut in from the right, swept past Phil Jones and unleashed a shot that took a heavy deflection off Michael Carrick’s boot before looping over goalkeeper David de Gea into the net.

“They started the match better than us and they were a bit unlucky that we scored in that moment,” Mourinho said. “When you are better than the opponent, you have to go and try to kill the game.”

United squandered a chance to level in the 38th. Adnan Januzaj’s cross reached Danny Welbeck in a central position but the striker couldn’t produce a clean shot.

Oscar then tried to double the lead with a bicycle kick that flew over from right in front of goal, and instead Chelsea’s second came from the boot of Eto’o again.

Welbeck only half cleared, Ramires seized possession and fed the ball to Hazard on the right flank. The winger then squared to the unmarked Eto’o to sweep a shot into the net as halftime loomed.

United had little time to settle after the break before its defense was breached again and Eto’o celebrated his first treble in English football.

Cahill headed in from Willian’s corner and De Gea only briefly blocked the ball before it went back out for Eto’o, who got ahead of Antonio Valencia to score.

United pulled one back when Jones’ scuffed shot was stabbed into the net by Javier Hernandez.

But there was no comeback and it got worse in stoppage time when United captain Nemanja Vidic was sent off for lunging at Eden Hazard, and he now faces a three-game ban.

While Moyes trudged off despondently, Mourinho was left to celebrate a 100th Premier League win out of 142 games across his two Chelsea reigns while still demanding more.

“We have to improve,” Mourinho said. “I want better. The first 20 minutes were not good.

“I want the game to be in our control since the beginning and it was not.”

Tottenham was in control at Swansea and swept to a fifth win in six league games as Adebyor — brought in from the cold under Sherwood — took his tally to six goal in seven games under the new manager.

The striker headed in his first in south Wales from Christian Eriksen’s cross in the 35th. Tottenham was gifted a second eight minutes into the second half when Kyle Walker’s cross was steered into his own goal by Chico Flores.

Adebayor was on target again in the 71st from close range after Danny Rose did the hard work on the left flank before setting up the striker.

And much like United at Stamford Bridge, Swansea reducing the deficit to 3-1 couldn’t spark a comeback. Wilfried Bony pulled one back in the 78th when he turned Roland Lamah’s cross past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

“We know there are going to be tougher tests ahead, but it’s been a good start for me,” Sherwood said. “If the season were to end tomorrow I don’t think the chairman (Daniel Levy) would be too happy because we are fifth.

“The final league position has to meet the expectation of the club otherwise it’s ‘goodbye.’ ... The club needs to finish in fourth place, we want to finish in fourth place. Anything other than that will be a disappointment but realistically we should be in amongst it.”

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