Ross Barkley sent a big message to his critics with a goal and a man-of-the-match display as Everton beat Burnley 3-1 to boost their European football hopes.
The hosts were the dominant side throughout but had to wait until the 49th minute to open the scoring, as unlikely goal machine Phil Jagielka broke the deadlock with his third goal in as many games.
Sam Vokes then pulled Burnley level from the penalty spot just four minutes later after a reckless challenge from goalkeeper Joel Robles, but Barkley – who was Everton’s best player by far – found the net on 71 minutes to put the Toffees back in front. Well, he claimed the goal anyway, as it was officially recorded as a Ben Mee OG after an unfortunate ricochet.
Everton needed another to make the three points certain, and it came from a familiar source as Romelu Lukaku scored from close-range for the ninth successive home game, and his 25th goal of the season.
The win sees Everton climb to fifth place, level on points with Manchester United.
Crystal Palace continued their run of results and further distanced themselves from the bottom-three after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Leicester City.
The Foxes looked set for three points when Robert Huth put them in front after just six minutes, with Jamie Vardy making it 2-0 with a superb goal after the break, curling the ball into the top corner after being set free by a lofted Riyad Mahrez pass.
But Sam Allardyce’s men rallied and pulled one back just two minutes later, Yohan Cabaye sparking the comeback with a neat finish before Christian Benteke completed it with a towering header with 20 minutes remaining.
It was a crucial result for the Eagles, as they were one of only two teams in the bottom seven to earn any points. They now sit seven points above the relegation zone.
Sunderland ended a run of seven games without scoring to earn a late point against West Ham, who ended a injury-delayed game with ten men.
A tight and frantic game saw Andre Ayew score the opener from West Ham with just five minutes on the clock, but the lead didn’t last for long as Tunisian forward Wahbi Khazri pulled the Black Cats level with a wonderful curling finish on 26 minutes.
James Collins then put West Ham back in front early in the second-half, heading in from Robert Snodgrass’ corner, and Sunderland were dealt a further blow when defender Billy Jones was forced off after taking a heavy bump to the head.
The injury led to a ten minute delay, and the introduction of Fabio Borini, and the Italian made almost an instant impact with the equaliser – firing the ball past Darren Randolph from the edge of the box to seal a late point.
There was more late drama as West Ham defender Sam Byram was sent off for a second bookable offence, but there was little time left for Sunderland to take advantage of the extra man.
Stoke took the lead with another early strike as Marko Arnautovic found the net within six minutes.
Saido Berahino then had what would have been his first Stoke goal chalked off for offside, and it seemed Hull had found a way back into the game against the run of play when Harry Maguire pulled them level shortly after the break.
But Stoke made their superiority count, with Peter Crouch restoring the Potters’ lead with a trademark headed goal and Shaqiri sealing all three points with a stunning 30-yard drive late on.
Watford ensured their safety from Premier League relegation with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Swansea, who continued their torrid winless run.
Etienne Capoue scored the crucial goal, the former Tottenham man finding the net at the second attempt after his initial shot was saved.
Swansea are now without a win in six league games, and sit two points from safety in 18th place. The Hornets move up to tenth.
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(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)