LONDON (AP)Christian Eriksen can’t stop scoring since his return to competitive soccer.
The Denmark international’s latest goal was his first for Brentford in a stunning 4-1 win in the English Premier League on Saturday against a Chelsea team beset by unrelenting takeover talk.
While Chelsea’s grip on third place is weakening – the European champion is five points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal having played one more game – Brentford moved closer to cementing its top-flight status for another season.
Brentford is 11 points clear of the relegation zone after its best win since promotion. Its decision – to some, a gamble – to sign Eriksen in January is looking a spectacular one.
The playmaker, back in soccer after suffering a cardiac arrest at last year’s European Championship, looked like he had never been away when scoring in each of Denmark’s friendly games over the international break on his return to his national team.
Now, he’s off the mark for Brentford, which has won all three games that Eriksen has started for the southwest London club.
Vitaly Janelt scored twice and Yoane Wissa the other goal at Stamford Bridge in one of the most surprising results of the season.
Antonio Rudiger hammered home a long-range strike off the post to hand Chelsea the lead just after halftime but Brentford punished Chelsea’s out-of-character defensive disarray three times in 10 minutes before Wissa’s stoppage-time fourth.
Chelsea’s fine run of six wins on the spin in all competitions came to a crashing halt, with the Blues perhaps looking over their shoulders in the league. Arsenal could trim the deficit to Chelsea to two points with a win at Crystal Palace on Monday.
Chelsea had shut out much of the takeover noise to fine effect with the winning run but Thomas Tuchel will need all his powers of man-management to set the Blues back on track, with a quarterfinal against Real Madrid in the Champions League coming up on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s fans started the day promising a protest against prospective new owners, the Ricketts family, with the club owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich up for sale. But perhaps only 100 supporters took to the streets around Stamford Bridge before kickoff, and plans to unveil a banner in the ground never materialised.
Abramovich will sell the club after 19 years as owner, with four consortiums locked in a bidding battle.
Rudiger’s thunderbolt provided a magical moment for Chelsea in the 48th minute but Janelt swept home a smart finish two minutes later after Chelsea ceded possession too cheaply in the middle of the field.
Then, four minutes later, Bryan Mbeumo raced down the left and played in Eriksen for a tap-in to put the Bees 2-1 ahead.
By the time Janelt dinked in Brentford’s third from Ivan Toney’s superb pass, just 12 minutes had elapsed since Rudiger broke the deadlock.
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