Douglas Luiz’s late penalty took Aston Villa joint top of the Premier League with a 3-2 win over 10-man Burnley on Saturday as Manchester City closed on the leaders by sweeping aside Sheffield United 2-0. It looked like a festive season to forget for Villa was set to continue after dropping points at home for the first time this season to Sheffield United and blowing a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Manchester United on Boxing Day. But Luiz’s spot-kick, that crept in off the underside of the bar, sent Unai Emery’s men level on points with Liverpool at the top of the table.
Leon Bailey’s opener for the home side was quickly cancelled out by Zeki Amdouni for Burnley.
Moussa Diaby restored Villa’s lead before half-time and they had a man advantage for the final 35 minutes after Sander Berge saw a second yellow card.
But Villa’s high line is begging to be picked off by opponents and Lyle Foster timed his run to blast past Emi Martinez 19 minutes from time.
There was a final twist, though, as Jhon Duran was upended inside the box and Luiz fired home.
“Everyone is so happy, we need to enjoy the moment,” said Luiz.
“The last three games we don’t play so well. It is halfway through the season, the players are tired, we lost three or four important players to injury. It is difficult, but we need to keep going.”
Man City cruise
Despite missing Erling Haaland for a seventh consecutive game due to a foot injury, City were never troubled by the bottom-of-the-table Blades.
Rodri ended Sheffield United’s resistence after just 14 minutes when the Spanish midfielder surged forward and fired low into the far corner.
Julian Alvarez again ably filled Haaland’s shoes as the Argentine tapped in his fourth goal in three games to make the points safe from Phil Foden’s cross just after the hour mark.
City move alongside Arsenal on 40 points, just two points behind Villa and Liverpool, who are in action at home to Newcastle on Monday.
And Pep Guardiola said he is contented with the first half of his side’s season despite some issues as they added the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup to their trophy collection.
“We’ve had injuries and some problems, we won the titles, important ones, so our level is really good I would say,” said Guardiola.
“Now rest, we all need it. January is less intense than November and December so we prepare for what’s next.”
Palmer inspires Chelsea
Chelsea snapped a run of four consecutive away defeats thanks to Cole Palmer’s double but had to withstand a nervy finale to beat Luton 3-2.
Powerful strikes from Palmer and Noni Madueke gave the visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men appeared to have ridden out a second half storm when Palmer’s classy finish made it 3-0.
But former Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley sparked a Luton revival and Elijah Adebayo bundled home from close range to set up a thrilling finale.
“That is the Premier League. Luton are a team that fight until the end, you could see that from their games against Liverpool and Arsenal and Man City and Newcastle,” said Pochettino.
“We controlled the game until the 65th minute. We needed to win and we deserved the result.”
Luton remain just one point adrift of safety as Everton slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Wolves.
Max Kilman, Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson were on target for Gary O’Neil’s men, who secured a third win in seven days.
Any fears that Crystal Palace could be dragged into the relegation battle were eased by the Eagles first win in nine games as Brentford were beaten 3-1 at Selhurst Park.
Manchester United are aiming to build on their stunning comeback against Villa when they travel to Nottingham Forest later on Saturday.
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