Man Utd frustrated by penalty row in Chelsea stalemate, Bale stars for Spurs

LONDON (AFP) – Manchester United were left frustrated by a VAR penalty controversy in their 0-0 draw at Chelsea, while the revitalised Gareth Bale struck twice in Tottenham’s 4-0 rout of Burnley on Sunday.

Liverpool took advantage of dropped points for Chelsea to move within two points of the top four by ending a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United.

Second-placed United had hoped to close the gap on Manchester City with a victory at Stamford Bridge.

But instead they now sit 12 points behind the Premier League leaders as their title hopes fade following a run of one win from four games.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard, but the stalemate also did little for the Blues top four challenge.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante challenge for the ball during their English Premier League football match. PHOTO: AP

The biggest talking point of a dour clash came in the first-half when United’s appeal for a penalty was rejected by referee Stuart Attwell after he consulted the pitchside monitor when Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle in a challenge with Mason Greenwood.

“It was a penalty, 100 per cent nailed on. If that’s a natural position for a hand to be in when the ball comes in then I must be blind,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Tuchel disagreed, saying: “How can this be a VAR intervention? I don’t understand why the referee has to check it but I’m glad it was no penalty.”

After five defeats in their previous six league games, Tottenham eased the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a significant contribution from Bale, who made just his third league start of the season.

The Wales forward’s most impressive display since his season-long loan move from Real Madrid gave him four goals in his last four appearances.

Bale took just 68 seconds to score with a clinical close-range finish from Son Heung-min’s cross.

The four-time Champions League winner then picked out Harry Kane’s run and the England captain’s shot deflected off James Tarkowski for his 22nd goal of the season.

Lucas Moura netted with a predatory finish before Bale, who had scored just once in the league all season before Sunday, grabbed his second with a cool strike from Son’s 55th-minute pass.

Tottenham are up to eighth, six points behind the top four with a game in hand.

“There is not one single manager in the world that doesn’t play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in very good condition,” Mourinho said.

“There is not one, but now he is better than ever. It’s not just about the two goals he scored, it’s fundamentally about his physical performance.”