LONDON: Liverpool climbed to the top of the Premier League as Darwin Nunez ended his goal drought to inspire a 2-0 win against Burnley, while Rasmus Hojlund broke his own barren run to cap Manchester United’s thrilling fightback to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool took an early lead through Nunez at Turf Moor and held on despite wasting a host of chances.
Nunez’s eighth goal this season was his first for 12 games since he netted against Bournemouth in the League Cup on Nov. 1.
Diogo Jota, back from a month’s injury absence, wrapped up the victory late on to leave Liverpool two points above second placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
Arsenal can regain top spot with a victory at home to West Ham on Thursday.
After successive draws with Manchester United and Arsenal prior to Christmas, this was an essential victory for Liverpool’s title ambitions.
On Liverpool being in pole position, Klopp said: “That’s nice. It will probably change and that’s no problem. It was not perfect but we are where we are.”
At Old Trafford, United were in danger of another damaging defeat when goals from John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker put Villa in control by halftime at Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag’s team were booed off at the interval but they staged a much-needed revival, sparked by Alejandro Garnacho scoring their first goal in seven hours and 20 minutes.
Garnacho struck again to equalize before Hojlund finally scored his first Premier League goal, in his 15th appearance, with eight minutes left.
Hojlund’s cathartic strike ended United’s four-match winless run in all competitions and lifted them to sixth in the Premier League.
“At halftime I said to the team, ‘keep believing’. The atmosphere changed a lot from the first half to the second. If we play our best we can beat anyone,” Ten Hag said.
United’s victory came in front of INEOS director of sport Dave Brailsford, who was in the directors box in the first sign of British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s involvement after buying a 25 percent stake on Christmas Eve.
Two games without a win have dented Villa’s unexpected title challenge.
Unai Emery’s men remain third, three points behind Liverpool after their first defeat in 11 matches in all competitions.
Chris Wood’s hat trick against his old club Newcastle gave Nuno Espirito Santo his first victory as Nottingham Forest boss, a 3-1 success at St. James’ Park.
Wood left Newcastle to join Forest in June, but had scored only four times for his new club.
Alexander Isak’s first half penalty put Newcastle ahead before New Zealand striker Wood equalized late in the first half.
Wood struck twice more in the second half to hand former Tottenham manager Nuno his maiden victory with Forest in his second game in charge after replacing the sacked Steve Cooper.
It was Forest’s first win in eight games and only their second success in their last 15 matches.
Luton boss Rob Edwards said South Yorkshire Police are investigating an alleged racist comment toward Carlton Morris in his side’s 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Sheffield United.
Morris complained of a comment made from a United fan late in the second half, which left him “pretty angry,” and the police have spoken to him.
“There was an alleged racist comment, the police are dealing with that, they have spoken to Carlton and got his take on it,” Edwards said.
Fulham boss Marco Silva insisted his goalkeeper Bernd Leno “touched” but “didn’t push” a ball boy during the Cottagers’ 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.
The second-half incident occurred when Leno went to collect the ball from the youngster’s outstretched hand before using his own hand to make deliberate contact with the shoulder of the boy, who appeared to take a step back for balance.
“Have you seen him pushing? I didn’t see this. Yes, he apologized. I spoke with Bernd about it,” Silva said.