A stirring fightback. A first win in nearly three months. An attacking partnership already clicking.
Welcome back to the English Premier League, Claudio Ranieri.
The Italian coach who masterminded the most improbable title triumph in English soccer, with little Leicester in 2016, is back in the Premier League as the new manager of Fulham and he made an immediate impact in his first game in charge.
Fulham beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday to climb off the bottom of the standings with only its second victory of the season, and its first since Aug. 26.
First, this victory. Next, the title?
Maybe not. Fulham won’t be replicating Leicester’s unlikely feat — achieved at odds of 5,000-1 — this season anyway, but his arrival has at least brought some optimism to a club owned by American billionaire Shad Khan, who also runs the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ranieri called for togetherness at Fulham when he was presented as coach last week and there were certainly early signs of that, with his players fighting back after going behind at Craven Cottage in the 18th minute and then getting pegged back to 2-2 early in the second half.
There is also the makings of an exciting combination up front, which Ranieri will hope rivals the one he produced at Leicester with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Winger Ryan Sessegnon set up Aleksandar Mitrovic for the winner in the 63rd, the Serbia striker’s second goal of the match.
Sessegnon, one of the most highly rated youngsters in the English game, also set up Andre Schuerrle for Fulham’s other goal in possibly his best display of the season.
While there was change at the bottom of the Premier League, it was more of the same at the top as Manchester City and Liverpool picked up where they left off before the international break with big wins to stay undefeated after 13 games.
There was, however, a first loss of the season for Chelsea.
UNBEATEN RECORD GOES
Maurizio Sarri experienced his first loss in English soccer as Chelsea was beaten at Tottenham 3-1, ending one of the three undefeated records in the Premier League.
Tottenham jumped above its London rival in the standings thanks to goals by Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and Son Heung-min in a rampant performance at Wembley Stadium.
The sight of Chelsea holding midfielder Jorginho clutching at thin air as Son outpaced him to score Spurs’ third goal was a fitting image, with Tottenham quicker to everything in a one-sided derby.
Chelsea, which scored a late consolation through substitute Olivier Giroud, dropped seven points behind first-place City.
Man City swept to a 4-0 victory at West Ham, with wingers Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling between them involved in all the goals at the Olympic Stadium.
Sterling set up David Silva for the opener, scored himself off Sane’s cross, then returned the favor for Sane to score the pick of the goals, leaving City 3-0 ahead after 34 minutes. Sane drove in the fourth goal in second-half stoppage time.
The win kept City top by two points and took its average goal-per-game tally in the league this season to above three.
FIRMINO ENDS DROUGHT
Firmino netted for the first time since Sept. 15 and Mohamed Salah scored his sixth goal in seven games in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Watford.
The highlight, however, was sandwiched between them — a brilliant free kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold that made it 2-0.
Liverpool, which stayed two points behind City, will be without Jordan Henderson for next weekend’s Merseyside derby with Everton after the midfielder was sent off for two bookings — the second one coming just after he’d been warned by the referee.
With City and Liverpool scoring freely, Manchester United’s struggles were put firmly into focus as Jose Mourinho’s team stuttered to a 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace.
It dropped United seven points off the top four and already 14 points behind City.
Boos greeted the final whistle at Old Trafford, such was the home side’s listless performance against a side without a league win for 10 weeks. United has failed to score in four of its nine games at Old Trafford in all competitions this season.
Everton climbed above United into sixth place by beating Cardiff 1-0 thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal.
Vardy converted a penalty for Leicester, which came from behind to draw 1-1 at Brighton.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80