LONDON: Brighton crushed Wolves 6-0 to improve their prospects of qualifying for Europe, while Crystal Palace effectively sealed their Premier League survival with a 4-3 win against struggling West Ham on Saturday. Beaten on penalties by Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend, Brighton can erase that painful loss if they make it into the Europa League or Europa Conference League. The eighth placed Seagulls remain in contention to do just that after recording their biggest win of an impressive season that already includes victories over Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side went ahead in the sixth minute at the Amex Stadium through Deniz Undav’s close-range effort for his first Premier League goal. Pascal Gross struck in the 13th and 26th minutes, the second of his goals a spectacular volley that arrowed into the top corner. Danny Welbeck’s header gave Brighton four first half goals for the first time since 2016. The former Manchester United forced scored again shortly after the restart and Undav’s second was dinked finish in the 66th minute.
At Selhurst Park, Palace moved 11 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals from Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Zaha, Jeff Schlupp and Eberechi Eze. Roy Hodgson’s team have won four of their six matches since Hodgson returned for a second spell at the club in place of the sacked Patrick Vieira. Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio and Nayef Aguerd were on the scoresheet for West Ham. But a second successive defeat leaves David Moyes’ men five points above the relegation zone with daunting fixtures against Manchester City and Manchester United looming next week.
West Ham were in front after just nine minutes when Michael Olise headed his attempted clearance of Jarrod Bowen’s corner straight to Soucek and the midfielder fired home from close-range. Olise made amends for his blunder as Palace equalized six minutes later. Cheick Doucoure found Olise and the forward’s superb pass picked out Ghana forward Ayew, whose first-time finish beat Lukasz Fabianski at the near post.
Zaha was back in the Palace starting line-up for the first time in four games since Hodgson’s return as manager at the start of April. The Ivory Coast forward rewarded Hodgson’s decision as he netted Palace’s second goal in the 20th minute with a composed strike from another dangerous Olise cross. West Ham’s porous defense was breached again after half an hour, with Soucek carelessly losing possession on the edge of the area to Schlupp, who accepted the gift with a simple finish under the exposed Fabianski.
There was no end to the first half goal spree as Antonio reduced the deficit with a close-range header after Soucek flicked on a corner in the 36th minute. Eze restored Palace’s two-goal advantage in the 66th minute, converting a controversial penalty awarded for Aguerd’s tug on his arm. Aguerd got one back for the Hammers in the 73rd minute, helping Soucek’s header into the net from virtually on the line, but it was too late to rescue a point.
Fourth bottom Nottingham Forest suffered a late collapse in a 2-1 defeat at Brentford. Danilo marked his 22nd birthday by lashing Forest ahead from close-range in first half stoppage-time. But Brentford equalized in the 82nd minute when Ivan Toney’s free-kick bounced past a weak attempted save from Keylor Navas. Toney’s 20th top-flight goal this season was followed by Josh Dasilva’s lethal finish four minutes into stoppage-time, leaving Forest just one point above the relegation zone. — AFP