LONDON (AP) — As red smoke spread over the away end at Bramall Lane, the chants of “There’s only one Bobby Charlton” rang out from the Manchester United supporters toward the end of its game against Sheffield United.
On the day when United mourned the passing of the club’s greatest ever player, a thundering strike by Diogo Dalot made sure that the team and its fans could celebrate his life with a win.
Dalot’s long-range curler in the 77th minute secured a 2-1 win at Sheffield United in an emotionally charged evening game that was played only hours after the death of the England great was announced. It began with United captain Bruno Fernandes laying down a wreath at the center circle before the kickoff, and ended with the chorus of chants in Charlton’s honor that were sparked by Dalot’s late goal.
“We had to show our respect for him and I think we did that today,” United manager Erik ten Hag said. “We wanted to celebrate but also to remember him.”
It was not a performance to be remembered by United, as it struggled to break down a team in last place in the standings, but none of that mattered as it was all about paying tribute to Charlton.
“I felt with the win we gave a little bit of joy on a sad day,” Dalot said. “This is the contribution we could have today and give to the family.”
The death of Charlton, the 1966 World Cup winner and arguably England’s greatest ever player, was announced during the halftime break of Saturday’s five afternoon games, overshadowing the results on the field on a busy day as the Premier League returned after the international break.
Earlier, Manchester City and Liverpool both bounced back from two straight disappointing results with comfortable wins to reignite a title rivalry that is showing signs of once again going deep into the season.
Liverpool beat crosstown rival Everton 2-0 in the Merseyside Derby in the early kickoff, before City ended a two-game losing streak in the league with a 2-1 win over Brighton.
Arsenal then came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Chelsea to sit level on points with Man City atop the standings.
City had lost two consecutive league games for the first time since 2018 after defeats to Wolverhampton and Arsenal but a third never looked likely against a Brighton team that has looked like an outside challenger for a top-four spot this season.
Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland netted for City in the opening 20 minutes, with the Norway striker ending a mini-drought after going two league games without scoring. He has never gone three Premier League games without a goal since joining City last season.
Ansu Fati pulled one back for Brighton in the 73rd but the visitors couldn’t find an equalizer even after City’s Manuel Akanji was sent off for a second booking in stoppage time.
On a day with plenty of red cards, Liverpool needed two late goals by Mohamed Salah to get past 10-man Everton after having a couple of refereeing decisions go its way this time.
Ashley Young was sent off after what appeared to be a soft yellow card in the 18th minute and a second booking in the 37th for another foul on Liverpool winger Luis Diaz.
Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate then avoided a second yellow after pulling back Everton striker Beto, which Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp acknowledged could easily have led to another red card.
Liverpool was also awarded a penalty for the first goal in the 75th minute after Diaz’s cross struck the outstretched right arm of substitute Michael Keane in the area.
Liverpool was coming off a loss and a draw in its last two games, with the defeat at Tottenham coming after VAR officials failed to award Liverpool a goal that had been wrongly disallowed for offside.
Chelsea looked on course for a marquee win under Mauricio Pochettino after Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk put the hosts 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge. But Declan Rice capitalized on a mistake by Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez in the 77th minute and substitute Leandro Trossard equalized in the 84th.
“I think we lost two points,” Pochettino said. “Yes, we’re disappointed but we have to take positive things. I want to see my players sad because they lost two points. We are in a good direction. It’s important we show the people we can compete at this level.”
Newcastle moved above Brighton into fifth place with a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Wolves and Brentford also earned victories. Brentford beat Burnley 3-0 at home, with the visitors also going down to 10 men in the 78th, while Wolves earned a 2-1 away victory at Bournemouth. That game saw a straight red card for Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook in the 54th minute, when the score was 1-1.
Luton trailed by two goals in the 83rd minute before rallying to draw 2-2 at Nottingham Forest, after Chris Wood had netted twice for the hosts.
Tottenham could climb above Man City and Arsenal atop the standings with a win over Fulham on Monday. ___
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