Football: Manchester United limp to draw with lowly West Bromwich in English Premier League

An out-of-sorts Manchester United could only draw 1-1 at struggling West Bromwich Albion on Monday (NZ time), leaving them second in the Premier League, but seven points adrift of Manchester City.

West Brom, who need a remarkable turnaround to avoid relegation, stunned their visitors with a second-minute goal from on-loan Senegalese striker Mbaye Diagne who beat defender Victor Lindelof to head home.

United looked lethargic for the rest of the half, but their inspirational Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes stepped up yet again in the 44th minute with a spectacular volley from near the penalty spot.

Fernandes has now been directly involved in 38 goals in his first 38 Premier League appearances, 22 goals and 16 assists.

In a more exciting second half in near-freezing temperatures at The Hawthorns, the Manchester club twice saw shots cleared off the line and had a penalty appeal turned down after captain Harry Maguire was manhandled in the box.

Showing a passion lacking in some team mates, Maguire drove forward at every opportunity and nearly won it at the death with a 95th-minute header that goalkeeper Sam Johnstone tipped onto the post.

"It was a great save by Sam to be fair," said a frustrated Maguire.

"We created a lot of chances, enough to win the game. We made it tough for ourselves conceding the goal. It's disappointing. On another day we score two or three goals and it's a different story."

Despite surviving waves of attacks, the hosts could have snatched it with three breakaways. Diagne, who has joined from Turkish club Galatasaray until the end of the season, twice went close with only David de Gea to beat in the United goal.

The result left West Brom second bottom of the table, 12 points from safety, with manager Sam Allardyce so far failing to ignite their season despite his reputation for great escapes.

League leaders Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Saturday to reach 53 points and have a game in hand over Manchester United and third-placed Leicester, both on 46. 

Maja double gives lowly Fulham 2-0 win at Everton 

Fulham's Nigerian striker Josh Maja scored his first two goals for the club to secure a 2-0 win at Everton on Sunday as the visitors ended a 12-game Premier League run without a win and rekindled their hopes of avoiding relegation.

The result left Fulham 18th on 18 points from 23 games, seven behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, while Everton stayed seventh on 37 from 22 after another lacklustre home performance.

Everton's poor league form continued as they suffered a third home defeat in four games, while Fulham won at Goodison Park for the first time after 22 successive defeats with Maja netting a brace in his first start for the Cottagers.

The visitors missed a hatful of first-half chances before former Sunderland striker Maja, who is on loan from French side Girondins Bordeaux, slid in to steer home Ola Aina's fizzing low cross in the 48th minute.

He made it 2-0 in the 65th with another predator's finish, popping up in front of goalkeeper Robin Olsen to tap in a rebound from close range after Harrison Reed hit the post with a long-range effort.

Everton striker Josh King had a goal disallowed for offside in the closing stages which summed up the Toffees' miserable evening as they failed to create anything meaningful up front.    

Wolves fight back to deepen Southampton misery

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after he scores a goal to make it 1-1 from the spot after a penalty is awarded against Ryan Bertrand of Southampton for handball during the Premier League match between Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Mary's Stadium on February 14, 2021 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

Wolverhampton Wanderers have mounted a second-half comeback to beat Southampton 2-1, avenging last weeks' 2-0 FA Cup loss to the Saints and inflicting their sixth league defeat in a row.

Danny Ings gave the home side the lead, but a Ruben Neves penalty and a superb Pedro Neto goal gave Wolves all three points as they leapfrogged Southampton into 12th in the Premier League, dropping Ralph Hasenhuettl's side to 13th.

Southampton have won only once in their last 11 league matches and Hasenhuettl was at a loss to explain a result which condemned his club to a sixth consecutive league loss for the first time in their history.

"I think we shouldn't discuss about our run. We know what happened today, it's hard to explain this defeat," Hasenhuettl told Amazon Prime.

"Until their penalty they had no chances at goal."

Southampton took the lead when Stuart Armstrong burst down the flank and left two defenders for dead before delivering a cross to pick out Ings who emphatically volleyed home.

But Wolves were more fluid going forward in the second half and were handed a lifeline when Nelson Semedo's cross hit Ryan Bertrand's arm. Neves made no mistake in beating Alex McCarthy from the penalty spot.

Neto sealed the win with a solo goal in the 66th minute, side-stepping Jannik Vestergaard before striking the ball past McCarthy from an acute angle.

"It was a very tough game, both halves were very tough," Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo said.

"In the first half Southampton managed the game. In the second half we were on the front foot, scored two goals and then defended very well." 

Aubameyang nets hat-trick as Arsenal beat Leeds

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang holds the match ball after scoring a hat-trick for Arsenal after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leeds United at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has marked his return to Arsenal's starting line-up with his first ever Premier League hat-trick in his side's 4-2 victory over Leeds United.

The Gabon forward, who had not started any of his side's last five games for personal reasons, fired Arsenal ahead in the 13th minute then doubled his side's lead from the penalty spot before Hector Bellerin made it 3-0 on the stroke of halftime.

Aubameyang's completed his hat-trick with a header two minutes into the second half but Leeds hit back. Pascal Struijk's header in the 58th minute revived Leeds and when Helder Costa struck again for the visitors with around 20 minutes remaining there were some wobbles in the home ranks.

Aubameyang was denied a fourth by the woodwork as Arsenal got back to winning ways after two successive league defeats.

Arsenal moved back above Leeds into 10th spot with 34 points from 24 games with Leeds 11th with 32 having played a game less. 

Reuters.