Premier League roundup: Merriment in Manchester as United pounces, City seizes top spot in table

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Romelu Lukaku (center) scored twice to lead <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/manchester-united/" data-ylk="slk:Manchester United">Manchester United</a> to a comeback victory. (Press Association)
Romelu Lukaku (center) scored twice to lead Manchester United to a comeback victory. (Press Association)

Manchester United took advantage of an Arsenal slip in the North London derby to move into fourth place in the Premier League table by beating Southampton 3-2.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice, including the winner in the 88th minute, to outlast the Saints in a thriller at Old Trafford.

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Manchester City, meanwhile, rode a 55th-minute goal from Riyad Mahrez to topple Bournemouth 1-0 away and leapfrog Liverpool into first place, putting pressure on the Reds as they travel to face arch rival Everton on Sunday.

Lukaku, United keep Solskjaer unbeaten in league

Lukaku continued a statement week by scoring twice, with his second goal sealing the three points for United in the 88th minute:

Down 1-0 at halftime, the Red Devils drew level in the 53rd minute through Andreas Pereira, and Lukaku gave them the lead in the 59th to cap a flurry that caught Southampton off guard:

United trailed in the first place thanks to Yan Valery’s belter in the 26th minute:

James Ward-Prowse scored Southampton’s second goal midway through the second half before Lukaku’s winner.

Thanks to Arsenal’s draw against Tottenham in the North London derby, United now sits fourth, one point ahead of the Gunners. Lukaku, meanwhile, has scored four times in his last two matches after a brace against Crystal Palace midweek.

No, Palace and Southampton aren’t the strongest competition, but they represent the kind of victories United can now be expected to earn under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who runs his league record to 10 wins and two draws in 12 matches since taking over mid-December.

The loss has to be a tough blow for Southampton, too. An unexpected away point vs. United could have proven crucial in the Saints’ fight to avoid relegation. They still have their toughest remaining games (Liverpool, Spurs, Wolverhampton Wanderers) at home, with a slew of fixtures remaining against the bottom half of the table, so they’re still in decent shape to ultimately avoid the drop.

But it sure seemed like a point was in the offing at Old Trafford. Now they have to regroup.

City bosses Bournemouth, loses de Bruyne to injury

Manchester City retook first place with a convincing effort, even if the score line was unflattering.

City absolutely dominated with a staggering 82 percent of the possession and didn’t concede a single shot on goal. Mahrez’s strike from the right side of the box was all the scoring his side needed:

Mahrez came on in first-half stoppage time for Kevin de Bruyne, who appeared to suffer a dreaded non-contact injury. The Belgian star has already endured two extended spells on the sideline this season due to knee issues, first from mid-August to mid-October and more recently from November 1 to December 15.

If there’s any good news for the reigning English champions, it’s that they’ve become accustomed to playing without de Bruyne, and once again top the league table with 71 points.

Liverpool is two back at 69, with Sunday’s Merseyside derby lingering. The Reds have answered pretty much every challenge thus far this season, but City will surely keep mounting them.

Palace, Brighton earn vital victories

Crystal Palace put three past Burnley to cruise to a 3-1 win at Turf Moor, while Florin Andone’s 79th-minute goal ignited the Amex Stadium and lifted Brighton & Hove Albion past Huddersfield Town 1-0.

Michy and Wilfried Zaha scored for Palace, which also benefited from an own goal by Phil Bardsley and vaulted up to 13th in the table with 33 points. Ashley Barnes scored for Burnley.

Brighton, meanwhile, secured three points it absolutely had to have against last-place and relegation-doomed Huddersfield. The Seagulls moved to 15th, five points above the drop and ahead of Burnley on goal differential.

Other Premier League scores

Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal

Wolves 2-0 Cardiff City

West Ham 2-0 Newcastle United

Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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