• Premier League round-up

Torres spot-on for Chelsea, Arteta at double for Arsenal

ESPN staff
December 8, 2012
Fernando Torres scored twice in the first half to put Sunderland to the sword © PA Photos

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A first ever penalty in English football was one of two goals for Fernando Torres on Saturday, as the Spaniard helped Chelsea to an important Premier League win against Sunderland.

Arsenal also had penalties to thank as they overcame West Brom at home to move back into the top six, while Southampton jumped out of the relegation zone thanks to Jason Puncheon's winner against fellow strugglers Reading.

Elsewhere, Norwich did their best to throw away a dominant position against Swansea before eventually winning 4-3, as QPR were denied a first win of the season at Wigan and Aston Villa failed to find a breakthrough in a goalless draw with Stoke.

Premier League results and table

Fernando Torres scored twice and was heavily involved in another for Juan Mata as Chelsea picked up a confidence-boosting 3-1 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Adam Johnson scored midway through the second half to give Martin O'Neill's side hope of getting something from the game and avoiding dropping into the relegation zone, but it was not to be.

It took barely 10 minutes for Chelsea to take the lead, after dominating the early passages of play. Victor Moses played in Eden Hazard down the left, and the Belgian cut back inside before firing a cross into the near post that Torres redirected perfectly into the top corner.

Sunderland soon fought back into matters, however, with Stephane Sessegnon forcing a smart save from Petr Cech on the half-hour mark and Johnson causing some consternation in the defence with a penetrating low cross.

The game had evened out in the minutes before half-time, but the Blues were handed a gilt-edged chance to double their advantage after a wild, and unnecessary, tackle inside the box from Sebastian Larsson brought down Ramires. Torres shrugged off David Luiz's advances and stepped up take the spot kick - sending Simon Mignolet the wrong way to send Chelsea into the break 2-0 ahead.

Just a few minutes after the restart, it was 3-0. Torres was again at the centre of matters but this time it was Mata with the goal - the Spaniard volleying in the rebound after his compatriot's first-time effort had clattered away off the stanchion.

Rafa Benitez - once again barracked by the travelling Blues fans - will not be particularly pleased with how his side switched off after that third goal, however, and they were eventually punished by Johnson, who scored with a wonderful strike from an acute angle that Cech seemed too stunned by to even try and save.

Cech made amends of sorts minutes later by tipping Johnson's curling free-kick wide of the post, as Chelsea slowly took the sting out of the contest and sealed all three points.

Arsenal took advantage of two penalty decisions - one dubious, one nailed-on - to grab an important 2-0 victory against West Brom at an unusually empty Emirates Stadium.

With reason to be nervous going into this contest, Arsenal were ultimately handed a tension-relieving advantage after 25 minutes. Spanish maestro Santi Cazorla went down in the box under limited contact with Steven Reid, with referee Mike Jones perhaps misled into awarding the penalty.

Arteta famously missed from 12 yards against Fulham at the same ground a few weeks ago, but he made no mistake this time by firing down the middle.

The Gunners could not find a second from open play over the next 45 minutes, so it was the referee's involvement once again that turned the course of the game. This time Jones' decision to award a spot-kick appeared more deserved, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was felled by Chris Brunt after a good piece of trickery.

Arteta stepped up again - with the exact same result to give the Gunners the breathing space they needed to close out the game.

Sunderland dropped into the bottom three as the replacement for Southampton, who won a fraught battle with former Championship foes Reading 1-0, with Jason Puncheon scoring the only goal of the game.

The first half of the game was goalless, but matters quickly sparked into life in the second 45 - with Southampton enjoying the majority of the possession and chances. And the home side soon made that count, Jason Puncheon taking Nathaniel Clyne's pass in his stride before slotting the ball beyond Adam Federici - just minutes after he was denied by the Australian.

It was to prove the decisive moment of the match, as Nigel Adkins' side moved up to 15th in the table.

Norwich survived an almighty second half scare to beat Swansea 4-3 and extend their unbeaten run to nine games.

The Canaries were 3-0 up and cruising at half-time, before seeing the scoreline reduced to 3-2 with plenty of time left on the clock. But a disallowed goal for Swansea saw their chance fade away, as Robert Snodgrass - influential all game - clinched the points with a smart free-kick to render Michu's late second meaningless.

The visitors took the lead early, Steven Whittaker slotting home after just 16 minutes following a smart one-two with the energetic Snodgrass.

Twenty-five minutes later the Canaries doubled their advantage - Sebastien Bassong scoring his third goal in four games with a header from Grant Holt's cross that Swans keeper Gerhard Tremmel should perhaps have done better with. Then just minutes later it was 3-0, Holt himself getting on the scoresheet after he was left utterly unmarked at Snodgrass's free-kick.

A clinical finish five minutes after the restart from - who else? - Michu gave the Welsh side hope of a comeback, and Danny Graham even had a chance to miss a great opening before it became 3-2 moments later; Jonathan de Guzman arriving late to thump home a volley.

Substitute Itay Shechter then thought he had grabbed a surprise equaliser with 15 minutes remaining, but it was disallowed for a foul from Michu in the build-up. And Norwich used that reprieve to kill off the game, Snodgrass scoring directly from a free-kick to seemingly end the panic and re-secure the points.

Michu then grabbed another at the death to briefly raise heartrates once again, but Norwich held on as the final whistle prevented any further drama.

Ryan Nelsen scored QPR's equaliser at the DW Stadium © PA Photos

Elsewhere, Harry Redknapp was denied a first win as QPR manager by James McCarthy, as Wigan held on to a 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium.

McCarthy scored twice for his side to secure a share of the points, in a game that saw Ryan Nelsen equalise for the west London side before Djibril Cisse gave them a short-lived lead late on.

It was a beautiful opener for the home side from McCarthy, who exposed QPR's frailty from set pieces. After David Jones had just been denied a remarkable opener from a free-kick, Redknapp's side failed to clear the subsequent corner as the ball fell to McCarthy - who volleyed in thanks in part to a slight deflection off Jamie Mackie.

Not long later Wigan were shown to be not too hot from corners either, however, as Nelsen rose highest to plant his header beyond Ali Al-Habsi and restore parity.

Midway through the second half Wigan were unlucky not to retake the lead, as Jones again saw a shot denied (this time by Rob Green), before Jordi Gomez cracked an effort against the bar after the ball had bounded across to him from Arouna Kone.

They would come to regret those missed opportunities, however, as QPR grabbed the lead with less than 20 minutes remaining. Cisse scored the all-important strike, the Frenchman on hand to finish off Shaun Wright-Phillips' assist, after the diminutive winger had been handed the ball after a shocking individual error from Adrian Lopez.

Redknapp's hopes of a first win were dashed almost immediately, however, as McCarthy got his second - the midfielder taking a touch and turning home after getting onto the end of Jean Beausejour's cross.

Finally, at Villa Park Aston Villa and Stoke City played out a 0-0 draw, in a game that was perhaps most notable for Darren Bent's return to action as a second half substitute.

The home side dominated possession and chances but just could not find a breakthrough, with powerhouse Christian Benteke denied on numerous occasions and Brett Holman also unable to beat Asmir Begovic.

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