Stoke City striker Marko Arnautovic returned to haunt Jose Mourinho with a spectacular winner as Chelsea lost 1-0 yesterday to cast further doubt on the manager's future with the English Premier League champions.
Mourinho dubbed Arnautovic "unmanageable" during their time at Inter Milan but the Austrian forward may have had the last laugh with an acrobatic 53rd-minute volley at the Britannia Stadium.
It condemned Chelsea to a third straight league defeat, their seventh in total, and left them 16th, heightening the risk that Mourinho, absent from the game due to a stadium ban, will be sacked.
Handed a one-game stadium ban for berating referee Jon Moss at halftime of his side's recent defeat at West Ham, Mourinho watched the match at a nearby hotel. With the international break due to begin, he may not be given a chance to return to the dug-out.
Chelsea's fans, at least, continue to believe in the club's most successful manager and showed their support by donning Mourinho masks and chanting his name.
Elsewhere, Jesse Lingard's first Manchester United goal inspired his side to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion that left Louis van Gaal's team a point shy of the league summit.
United laboured until Lingard broke the deadlock by coolly curling home from outside the box in the 52nd minute at Old Trafford. Juan Mata added a stoppage-time penalty.
"Everybody knows who has played football that the most difficult way to score is against a very defensive team," van Gaal said.
"You need patience. In the second half, West Brom are more tired and the chances come."
At the King Power Stadium, Jamie Vardy scored for the ninth league game running as Leicester sank Watford 2-1 to continue their fine start to the season. After gifting Leicester their first goal, Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes then fouled Vardy inside the box and the England forward netted the ensuing spot-kick after regular penalty-taker Riyad Mahrez stood aside.
It made Vardy the first English player to score in nine successive Premier League games and left him within one game of former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's record.
West Ham, who welcomed All Whites defender Winston Reid back from injury, drew 1-1 at home to Everton. Newcastle climbed out of the relegation zone at Bournemouth's expense with a 1-0 win at Dean Court.
Sunderland remain in the bottom three after losing 1-0 at home to Southampton but Norwich pulled away from danger with a 1-0 home win over Swansea. AFP