Manchester City’s defense of the English Premier League title is already in trouble.
Hapless defensive errors helped Norwich beat City 3-2 on Saturday and leave the defending champion five points behind perfect Liverpool after just five games.
City hadn’t lost a league game since January — and drawn only once in that time — but conceded two goals to Norwich inside the opening half-hour. A team which soared last season was brought to earth.
“The people cannot expect we win every time or make 100 points [every season],” manager Pep Guardiola said. “Even with the [score at] 3-2 we had chances to make another one. The team never gave up.”
First, Kenny McLean evaded City’s marking to head in a corner from Emi Buendia, then City was caught unawares by a Norwich counterattack. Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell broke together, Pukki drawing the defenders before delivering the ball to give Cantwell an easy finish.
Sergio Aguero revived City with a goal just before halftime — he’s scored in all of City’s first five games — but sloppy defending just after the break undid his work.
Nicolas Otamendi failed to notice Buendia running in behind him and was robbed of the ball on the edge of the penalty area before Buendia passed for Pukki to score his sixth goal.
Rodrigo’s low, hard shot for an 88th-minute goal gave City hope, but Norwich’s defense and goalkeeper Tim Krul weathered the storm for an unlikely win.
Indeed, Norwich had to deal with more than just the Premier League champion. A wave of injuries left the underdog with a squad so depleted that it couldn’t find six outfield players as substitutes, instead picking two goalkeepers on the seven-man bench.
As McLean put it: “When we have our backs to the wall we come out fighting.”
Liverpool still perfect
Liverpool stayed perfect with five wins from five after beating Newcastle 3-1, but it wasn’t easy.
Jürgen Klopp’s team went behind to a sweetly struck early goal from Jetro Willems, but fought back to win and preserve its record.
Sadio Mane continued his strong start to the season with two goals before halftime, taking him to six from six games in all competitions. Mohamed Salah made certain of the win with a third goal late on.
“You have to play much quicker than we did in the first part of the game. In the moment we did that we started having chances and we scored two wonderful goals,” said Klopp.
“In the second half we scored only one goal but we played really good football and I liked it a lot.”
Chelsea young guns
What a day for Tammy Abraham. Chelsea’s new first-choice striker scored a hat trick, then an own goal, then went off injured.
It’s all part of the youth revolution under new manager Frank Lampard — a little chaotic but effective.
“He has to sustain it and has to get even better. He has to be hungry, which I know he is. He can never rest on his laurels, because there is more work to be done,” Lampard said of Abraham, who is the league’s joint-top scorer alongside Aguero with seven.
In the 5-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea became the first ever team to have 11 straight league goals scored by players aged 21 or younger. It’s quite the turnaround in four games since the opening-day 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.
In addition to Abraham’s three, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount also scored.
Both Wolves goals, including Abraham’s own goal, came after Chelsea scored five, and meant little. Abraham did not seem seriously hurt, though teammate Antonio Rudiger needs an exam on a groin problem before Chelsea plays Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Tottenham didn’t hang around to beat Crystal Palace, scoring all of its goals in the first half for a 4-0 win.
As so often when Tottenham plays Palace, Son Heung-Min was the star. The South Korean scored twice and had a hand in another goal, feeding Harry Kane to deliver a cross for Erik Lamela to score.
Son scored his first league goal against Palace and became the first scorer at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Palace in April. It was Tottenham’s first win since the opening day of the season and the first time it had scored four since beating Huddersfield in April.
United scrapes a win
Manchester United earned its first win for a month, but it was far from convincing.
An eighth-minute penalty from Marcus Rashford led United to beating Leicester 1-0, but it was a game they could have easily drawn or lost if not for good saves from goalkeeper David de Gea. “Of course, we want to play better than this,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
Southampton continued its recovery from a slow start to the season, beating Sheffield United 1-0 thanks to a moment of skill from Moussa Djenepo.
The Malian dribbled past three Sheffield defenders before knocking the ball past goalkeeper Dean Henderson. It was his second goal in three league games since arriving in the offseason, and leaves Southampton on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Brighton and Burnley drew 1-1 after Jeff Hendrick’s stoppage time goal salvaged a point for Burnley. A volley from Neal Maupay gave Brighton the lead, but the draw left both clubs without a win in four games. JAMES ELLINGWORTH, AP