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Man U upends Chelsea to open up league race

The Associated Press

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, front, and Manchester United’s Ander Herrera battle for a header during Sunday’s match in Manchester.

The Associated Press MANCHESTER (AP) — Ander Herrera scored one goal, set up another and executed the perfect man-marking job on Eden Hazard to set up Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea that opened up the Premier League title race on Sunday.

United didn’t even need rested top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to consign the leaders to their fifth league loss of the season, which left them only four points ahead of Tottenham with six games left.

Marcus Rashford — Ibrahimovic’s 19-year-old replacement up front — ran onto Herrera’s through-ball to give United a seventh-minute lead. A constant menace for Chelsea’s defense with his mobility and direct approach, Rashford ensured Ibrahimovic wasn’t missed at Old Trafford.

Herrera shadowed Hazard in a tactical plan by United manager Jose Mourinho that limited the effectiveness of Chelsea’s main attacking threat. On a rare occasion he left Hazard’s side, Herrera popped up in Chelsea’s area in the 49th minute to smash a deflected shot high into the net from 18 meters.

Chelsea, which held a 13-point lead after beating Stoke 2-1 on March 18, has lost two of its last four games.

“The league is open and we have a 50 percent [chance] to win the league,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who blamed himself for the loss to United.

“They showed more desire, more ambition, more motivation. It is very simple but in this case the fault is of the coach. It means the coach was not able to transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this game.”

The result didn’t just blow open the title race, it also left the battle for Champions League qualification intriguingly poised. United moved up to fifth place, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand, and is six points behind third-placed Liverpool having played two fewer games.

“With Liverpool and Manchester City victories, if we don’t win, then goodbye Premier League,” Mourinho said. “These three points were phenomenal.”

United had conceded five goals and failed to score in its two losses to Chelsea this season — one in the league (4-0) and one in the F.A. Cup (1-0) — but Mourinho got his own back against his former club this time.

Earlier, Roberto Firmino scored a winning goal for the second straight game as Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0.

Fan violence halts French match

PARIS (AP) — For the second time in a week, a high-level soccer match on French soil was marred by crowd violence.

The latest incidents on Sunday in Corsica during a domestic league game between Bastia and Lyon — which was abandoned at halftime — raised questions about security in French venues.

The game was stopped for good after fans from the Corsican side twice invaded the field to attack opposition players. After kickoff was delayed by 55 minutes, the match was abandoned when more trouble erupted at the interval with the score at 0-0.

Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was calmly walking off the field — after referee Amaury Delerue whistled the end of the first half — when he was confronted by a man. Lopes pushed him back as clashes erupted between home fans and Lyon players.

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