Premier League celebrations: Leicester & James Maddison lead the way

James Maddison
James Maddison made his Leicester team-mates keep their distance before shaking hands with the air

Leicester City were the only team to follow the Premier League's new guidance on goal celebrations - but they had a bit of fun with it.

Saturday was the start of the first full round of top-flight games since players were told to curb their celebrations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Not only has there been a recent rise in cases in the UK, but footballers and clubs have been criticised by politicians for repeated breaches of Covid-19 rules, and warned not to abuse their privilege that elite sport has been allowed to continue while the country is under a strict lockdown.

Many Premier League players still opted to ignore their league's request, but Leicester's James Maddison was an exception.

He ushered his team-mates away as he celebrated his opening goal in their 2-0 win against Southampton, and then mimicked shaking hands with the air.

"The gaffer [Brendan Rodgers] mentioned it," Maddison told BBC Sport. "We got told in a meeting that we might have to do that to keep football going, that's what we all want.

"Football is keeping us going in these tough times. It was a light-hearted idea, someone's got to start it, eh?"

Foxes manager Rodgers added: "I said to them there is lots of negativity around it but see it as a positive and be creative.

"Supporters still want to see players celebrate, [see] the happiness, so be creative with it."

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters wrote to clubs on Wednesday to stress the "critical importance" of adhering to the strengthened protocols.

Clubs were reminded that "handshakes, high-fives and hugs must be avoided" and players should socially distance whenever possible, on and off the pitch.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said footballers must follow Covid-secure guidelines and that "football authorities must enforce them strictly".

Football has 'got to set a good example' - Premier League chief executive tells BBC sports editor Dan Roan

So what happened elsewhere in Saturday's games?

Wolves 2-3 West Brom

West Brom celebrate Matheus Pereira's winning goal
West Brom celebrated their winner against Wolves with embraces

Celebrations seemed partly muted in the Black County derby, for the first two goals at least.

But Willy Boly's goal to put Wolves 2-1 up prompted a number of players to jump on each other, and Semi Ajayi was hugged by three other players after scoring West Brom's equaliser.

Matheus Pereira was hugged by Callum Robinson after his match-winning penalty - and there were more embraces at full-time. However, you may have expected more after an important local derby victory.

Baggies boss Sam Allardyce said: "It is difficult to control your emotions. Because of the length it has been since we won, you can understand why that happened.

"We have been told - we had a 60-minute meeting with the PFA, FA, Premier League and medical officers - we have to try to restrain showing contacts.

"It is more cosmetic. It [wild celebrations] sends the wrong message. The longer we go, the better we will be at it."

Leeds 0-1 Brighton

Neal Maupay
Neal Maupay hugged Alexis Mac Allister, who set up his goal

Brighton's Neal Maupay went over to the byeline to point at a camera after scoring the only goal. Other team-mates joined him and fist-bumped before Maupay hugged Alexis Mac Allister, who set up the goal.

At full-time, some Seagulls players attempted to restrain their celebrations, although there were embraces.

West Ham 1-0 Burnley

Michail Antonio
Michail Antonio started celebrating on the ground on his own but was then joined by team-mates

West Ham's Michail Antonio lay on the floor pretending to backstroke after scoring the only goal, before being picked up and hugged by several team-mates.

Fulham 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea celebrate
Three England internationals hugged after Mason Mount's goal for Chelsea

Mason Mount celebrated his winner by hugging fellow England internationals Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi. There were also celebrations at full-time.

Mount said: "That's the world we live in, but that's the passion of football. You want to celebrate together. We have to be careful, but don't want to take away the passion too much."

Leicester 2-0 Southampton

Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans
Harvey Barnes also enjoyed a socially distanced celebration

There was no doubt Maddison's was the celebration of the day - but Harvey Barnes also followed the new guidance with the second goal in stoppage time.

He celebrated at a distance, followed by kicking boots with Youri Tielemans and a couple of fist-bumps.

Rodgers added: "Football brings such great joy to people. It's such a really, really hard time - off the back of Christmas.

"January is always a tough month for people. If they can get some sort of relief from a good competitive game and seeing players celebrating in the right way, that's important."

There were not too many embraces at the final whistle.

Premier league graphic
Updated guidelines have been issued by the Premier League
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