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Hazard fires Chelsea title charge, Spurs still in hunt

© AFP / by Steven GRIFFITHS | Chelsea's midfielder Eden Hazard scores his team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on April 5, 2017

LONDON (AFP) - 

Eden Hazard fired Premier League leaders Chelsea to a crucial 2-1 win over Manchester City, but Tottenham are hot on their heels after a sensational fightback in their 3-1 victory at Swansea on Wednesday.

Chelsea remain seven points clear of second placed Tottenham with eight games to play, yet with just minutes left on a dramatic evening it seemed the Blues would have a much greater lead.

Rocked by Saturday's shock 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace, Antonio Conte's Chelsea side took only 10 minutes to take the lead through Hazard's 12th goal of the season.

Hazard's effort deflected off Vincent Kompany and beat Willy Caballero, whose weak attempted save drew a frustrated look from City boss Pep Guardiola as he contemplated the latest in a growing list of gaffes from his goalkeepers this season.

Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois was guilty of an even worse blunder, spilling David Silva's shot to Sergio Aguero, who tapped in City's 26th minute equaliser.

Conte's team were back in front after 35 minutes when Fernandinho conceded a penalty with a foul on Pedro.

Hazard's spot-kick was saved by Caballero, but the Belgian recovered quickly to finish off the rebound.

Kompany, back in the line-up for the first time since November, hit the crossbar with a second half header, but fourth placed City crashed to their first defeat in nine games, leaving them without a win in four, while Chelsea are still in pole position for the title.

At the Liberty Stadium, Tottenham fell behind in the 11th minute when Wayne Routledge turned in Jordan Ayew's cross for Swansea.

But Tottenham staged an incredible finale as England midfielder Dele Alli equalised with an 88th minute tap-in.

A minute into stoppage-time, South Korea forward Son Heung-Min bagged his 16th goal of the season with a clinical finish and there was still time for Christian Eriksen's strike to put the seal on Tottenham's fifth successive win.

Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger and climbed back into the race for Champions League qualification with a 3-0 win over West Ham.

Wenger had endured repeated calls for his resignation from frustrated fans in recent weeks, but the protests at the Emirates Stadium were more muted for once as Arsenal ended a three-match winless run with only their second victory in their last seven league games.

Mesut Ozil broke the deadlock in the 58th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area.

- Sucker punch -

Theo Walcott bagged Arsenal's second in the 68th minute and Olivier Giroud's superb strike in the 83rd minute ensured his side moved above Manchester United into fifth place, four points behind Manchester City with a game in hand.

West Ham's fifth successive defeat leaves them just three points above the relegation zone.

Liverpool were hit by a late sucker punch as Bournemouth snatched a 2-2 draw at Anfield.

Benik Afobe struck for Bournemouth in the seventh minute, but Philippe Coutinho bagged Liverpool's equaliser with a typically cool 40th minute finish.

That made Coutinho the joint highest Brazilian scorer in Premier League history, alongside former Middlesbrough playmaker Juninho, with 29 goals.

Divock Origi put Liverpool in front in the 59th minute, but Josh King blasted his eighth goal in eight appearances to rescue Bournemouth in the 87th minute.

Liverpool's latest slip against lowly opposition leaves Jurgen Klopp's third placed side six points above fifth place in the race for the Champions League.

Hull climbed out of the relegation zone with a priceless 4-2 win over relegation rivals Middlesbrough at the KCOM Stadium.

Middlesbrough took a fifth minute lead through Alvaro Negredo, but Hull were level nine minutes later as Lazar Markovic drove in his first goal since arriving on loan from Liverpool.

Oumar Niasse, in the 27th minute, and Abel Hernandez, in the 33rd minute, put Hull in control before Middlesbrough's Marten De Roon struck seconds before half-time.

Harry Maguire's 70th minute goal ensured Hull would win for the third time in their last four games to move two points above the bottom three.

Second bottom Middlesbrough are seven points from safety after their winless run extended to 13 games.

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida's first Premier League goal for 14 months inspired a 3-1 win over struggling Crystal Palace at St Mary's.

Christian Benteke's 31st minute strike put Palace ahead, but Nathan Redmond equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Japan's Yoshida netted in the 84th minute and James Ward-Prowse got the third moments later.

by Steven GRIFFITHS

© 2017 AFP