MANCHESTER: Leeds United’s Macedonian midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (left) vies with Manchester United’s Welsh midfielder Daniel James during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leeds United yesterday. – AFP

LONDON: Manchester United blitzed Leeds 6-2 to climb to third in the Premier League yesterday as Leicester put a major dent in Tottenham’s title challenge. The first top-flight battle in 16 years between bitter rivals United and Leeds was keenly anticipated but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men proved far too strong at an empty Old Trafford. United, who made a stuttering start to the season, now have 26 points-five behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand. They are a point adrift of second-placed Leicester, who beat Spurs 2-0 in the earlier kick-off to complete a miserable few days for Jose Mourinho.

United have won all six of their away games in the Premier League this season but had won just one match at home before yesterday. Leeds were expected to provide a stern examination of United’s rickety defense but the visitors were 2-0 down as early as the third minute-with both goals scored by midfielder Scott McTominay. Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof made it 4-0 before Liam Cooper pulled one back for Marcelo Bielsa’s team. United were back on the rampage in the second half. Daniel James made it 5-1 and Fernandes scored a penalty before Stuart Dallas scored again for Leeds.

Spurs stumble
Spurs were top of the table until a last-minute winner for Liverpool gave the champions a 2-1 victory on Wednesday. They now find themselves back in fifth spot-six points adrift of the champions after a damaging defeat. Jamie Vardy put away-day specialists Leicester ahead from the penalty spot deep into first-half stoppage time after Serge Aurier barged Wesley Fofana over. Spurs had a huge escape early in the second half as James Maddison had a goal ruled out for the most marginal of offsides. But Leicester doubled their lead just before the hour mark via an own goal. Vardy capitalized on some bad defending by Moussa Sissoko and his header across goal deflected off Toby Alderweireld and into the net.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers described his team, who have won six of their seven away games this season, as “outstanding”. But he told Sky Sports: “We have to start winning at home. The group is learning all the time and that’s why we’re nowhere near the finished product.” Mourinho must now lift his team after a miserable few days. “It is not a good week in terms of results,” said the Spurs boss. “We could be here as the ones that broke Liverpool’s record at Anfield and going into this game on a high.

“We started this game from the low of that disappointment and not getting what we deserved from that match, but Leicester also lost in their last match but came with a positive attitude. It’s a game that we’ve lost with the penalty and the own goal.” In the early kick-off, 10-man Sheffield United were cruelly denied a first Premier League win of the season as Brighton’s Danny Welbeck cancelled out Jayden Bogle’s opener in a 1-1 draw. Struggling West Brom, with new manager Sam Allardyce at the helm, host local rivals Aston Villa in the late evening kick-off. – AFP