London: Jose Mourinho endured an unhappy return to Manchester United as Marcus Rashford’s double beat Tottenham 2-1 at Old Trafford, while second-placed Leicester’s winning run stretched to eight games with a 2-0 victory over Watford.
Chelsea bounced back from two consecutive league defeats to solidify their place in the top four with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, but it is Wolves not United or Spurs who are chasing them for a Champions League place as they beat West Ham 2-0 to move into fifth.
Mourinho’s first defeat since taking charge of Spurs eases the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United move above Tottenham in the table up to sixth.
Marcus Rashford smashed United into an early lead with the help of some poor goalkeeping by Paulo Gazzaniga as the England international’s powerful shot crept in at his near post.
That was Rashford’s ninth goal in his last 10 games for club and country and he was hungry for more as he flashed a free-kick inches wide before Gazzaniga made amends by turning another dipping effort onto the crossbar.
Yet for all United’s dominance in the first 45 minutes, one moment of brilliance for Dele Alli got Mourinho’s men level before the break.
Alli plucked the ball out of the air and skipped beyond two United defenders with one touch before slotting home his fourth goal in as many games since Mourinho took charge.
United were handed the chance to retake the lead when Rashford went down under Moussa Sissoko’s challenge early in the second half and picked himself up to defy his struggles from the penalty spot this season by sending Gazzaniga the wrong way.
Leicester moved back above Manchester City as Liverpool’s closest challengers after a night dominated by penalty controversy at the King Power.
Jamie Vardy was booked late in the first half when he appeared to have been tripped inside the area.
However, the Foxes were awarded a far softer spot-kick after the break when Jonny Evans went down clutching his face inside the area.
On both occasions a VAR review backed referee Craig Pawson’s initial call and Vardy scored for the seventh straight game to open the scoring from the spot.
James Maddison then sealed the points deep into stoppage time to move to within five points of Liverpool at the top of the table.
Chelsea badly missed the presence of Tammy Abraham due to a hip injury in Saturday’s shock 1-0 home defeat to West Ham and the return of their top scorer proved the difference against Villa.
Abraham’s 26 goals on loan helped Villa get promoted last season and he did not celebrate when heading in Reece James’s cross to open the scoring.
Trezeguet bundled home to bring the visitors level before the break, but Abraham then turned provider by chesting down for Mason Mount to brilliant volley high past Tom Heaton.
Wolves remain unbeaten in the league since September and goals from Leander Dendoncker and Patrick Cutrone either side of half-time saw off a disappointing West Ham at Molineux.
Southampton moved out of the bottom three with a second straight win as Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand won the battle of the bottom two at the beginning of the evening against Norwich 2-1.