(Reuters) – Chelsea returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Southampton to move top of the Premier League but Manchester United stuttered again at home on Saturday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by high-flying Everton.
After consecutive defeats for only the second time since Thomas Tuchel took charge, Chelsea needed a response and they got it as Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell struck late on after Southampton had been reduced to 10 men.
Tuchel’s side move to 16 points from seven games, two more than Liverpool who host Manchester City in Sunday’s big clash.
Manchester United and Everton are also locked on 14 points after the early kickoff at Old Trafford ended honours even.
Brighton and Hove Albion also have 14 points after a 0-0 home draw with Arsenal played in torrential rain.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, scorer of a last-gasp winner against Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday, starting on the bench, United took a deserved lead when Anthony Martial was played in by Bruno Fernandes to score in style just before the halftime interval.
United were pegged back though when Andros Townsend finished off a sweeping move — the winger celebrating with a trademark Ronaldo pose in front of Everton’s travelling fans.
Rafa Benitez’s side thought they had snatched a late victory when Yerry Mina slotted in but after a VAR review he was adjudged to have been offside.
It was a let-off for United but they were still left frustrated at dropping more home points after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat by Aston Villa, especially with a tough-looking run of league fixtures ahead.
“We had 75% possession. We got hit on one break that cost us and we lacked that cutting edge to get the important second goal,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
“We just couldn’t get that second goal you need in games like this as Everton can score a goal from nowhere.”
Ronaldo came off the bench but this time the Portuguese could not summon a dramatic ending.
“It’s about picking the right moments (to give Ronaldo a rest),” Solskjaer said when asked about the decision to put him on the bench and start with Edinson Cavani.
After Chelsea failed to score in their last two games, it was unsung academy product Trevoh Chalobah who put them in front after nine minutes.
Romelu Lukaku and Werner both had goals ruled out and when, on the hour, Ben Chilwell tripped Tino Livramento in the area to earn Southampton a penalty that James Ward-Prowse converted, it looked as though the visitors would earn a point.
But Ward-Prowse was red-carded for a poor tackle on Jorginho and Chelsea took advantage to claim the win.
“It was absolutely a deserved victory. We played a good match of football, an entertaining match of football because Southampton played strong,” Tuchel said.
“There are a lot of things for him to improve but we are happy and relieved we scored in the late minutes.”
Leeds United kickstarted their campaign with a first league win — Diego Llorente’s early goal proving enough to beat Watford 1-0 at Elland Road.
Promoted Norwich City earned their first point of the season and ended a run of 16 consecutive Premier League defeats as they ground out a 0-0 draw at fellow strugglers Burnley.
Newcastle United’s troubles also continued as the Magpies went down 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers for whom South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan struck twice from assists by Raul Jimenez to help Wolves move clear of the relegation zone.
Norwich remain bottom with one point with Newcastle and Burnley, who are also winless, on three.