Downing's day finally arrives at Anfield
Premier League round-up:
Liverpoolwinger Stewart Downing had a rare day to remember at Anfield as his first Premier League goal for the club wrapped up a comfortable 4-0 victory over
Only last week the England international had admitted he may leave next month after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.
If that was the incentive to put himself in the shop window it worked as he registered his first league assist in setting up Steven Gerrard - after Martin Skrtel’s opener - and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.
The €25 million signing has been held up as an example of Liverpool’s wastefulness in the transfer market over the last few years.
Previous manager Kenny Dalglish certainly did not get his money’s worth out of the winger and Rodgers has so far hardly attempted to as this was only Downing’s sixth Premier League start of his reign.
He has mostly been confined to the Europa League and has even been played at left back occasionally as Rodgers tried to find some use for him.
But in a more familiar advanced right wing role he was able to showcase some of his talent with his first assist and goal in 17 months and 45 league matches at the club.
In fairness Fulham, who have won just one of their last nine league matches and only one of their last 10 away from home, were very accommodating and festively came bearing gifts aplenty.
Martin Jol’s side left gaping holes all over the pitch and, unlike Aston Villa last week who were rewarded for all their harrying and hustling with a 3-1 win, Liverpool had plenty of time to take advantage.
As a result they moved up to eighth in the table, their highest position of the season, and five points adrift of the top four.
Gareth Barry’s late goal spared Manchester City’sblushes as they edged out bottom side Reading1-0 at a relieved Etihad Stadium.Roberto Mancini’s side trailed local rivals and current league leaders Manchester United by six points in the title race heading into this weekend, and they appeared to be at risk of losing more ground thanks to a dogged defensive effort from the Royals.
But Barry rose to head home in stoppage time from David Silva’s cross to trim United’s lead to three points before their clash with Swansea on Sunday.
Evertonmoved back into the top four as they came from behind to beat West Hamat Upton Park.
Carlton Cole fired the Hammers into the lead, just moments after the Toffees had seen a Leon Osman effort ruled out after Victor Anichebe was adjudged to have fouled Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Anichebe levelled after the break before Cole was sent off for a high challenge on Leighton Baines.
Everton capitalised as Steven Pienaar grabbed the winner and the visitors held out after Darron Gibson was dismissed late on.
Norwichsaw their 10-game unbeaten run come to an end as they were beaten 2-1 by West Brom.
Robert Snodgrass’s free-kick gave the Canaries the lead, but goals from Zoltan Gera and Romelu Lukaku ensured it was the Baggies who took the three points at The Hawthorns.
Substitute Shola Ameobi gave Newcastlea valuable 1-0 win over QPR. The striker got the only goal of the game after being teed up by Sylvain Marveaux.
Sunderlandalso claimed an important 1-0 win as they came out on top at Southampton, Steven Fletcher grabbing the winner from Stephane Sessegnon’s mishit shot just before half-time.