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 player scored again shortly after the restart and Undav’s second was dinked finish in the 66th minute.
“We suffered a lot in the last two games. This answer today was fantastic. I have no doubt about the level of the people inside the dressing room,“ De Zerbi said.
“The most important is not to lose our DNA and style. We deserve to achieve our target, Europe, but we shall see.”
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 the manager returned for a second spell at the club in place of the sacked Patrick Vieira.
“The sword has been removed from my head, it’s been removed from the players’ heads,“ Hodgson said of Palace banishing their relegation fears.
“There is no reason for me to believe that the other teams are going to get 12 points from four games and we are going to get nothing. I believe we’ve done enough.”
‘Galling’ loss for West Ham
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.
“I didn’t think we played well. Crystal Palace showed more quality than we did,“ Moyes said.
“The thing I pride myself on is that my teams are normally pretty hard to beat. Today we weren’t hard to beat and we weren’t hard to play against. That’s probably the most galling bit for me.”
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 equalised 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.
“It’s a tough one to take. We fell short on the two goals and it’s cost us,“ Forest boss Steve Cooper said.
“There is no lack of togetherness, fight or will. We have to keep going.” – AFP