West Brom hang­ing on by their fin­ger­nails

Sunday Times - - Sport Cricket/soccer -

● Jake Liver­more kept alive West Bromwich Al­bion’s slen­der hopes of avoid­ing rel­e­ga­tion as his last-gasp strike clinched a dra­matic 10 win over Tot­ten­ham. Stoke were rel­e­gated af­ter a 2-1 de­feat against Crys­tal Palace.

Al­bion knew only three points at the Hawthorns would be enough to stave off rel­e­ga­tion, for a few hours at least.

With Dar­ren Moore’s side just min­utes from drop­ping into the Cham­pi­onship, Liver­more sparked wild cel­e­bra­tion when he prod­ded home af­ter a goal­mouth scram­ble two min­utes into stop­page time.

In­cred­i­bly, Al­bion were on the brink of rel­e­ga­tion again just hours later when fel­low strug­glers Southamp­ton took a sec­ond-half lead through Nathan Red­mond at Ever­ton.

But, with sec­onds left in stop­page time, Tom Davies’s de­flected strike res­cued a 1-1 draw for Ever­ton.

Al­bion’s last game of the sea­son is at Palace next Sun­day, but they will go down if there is a win­ner be­tween Swansea and Southamp­ton at the Lib­erty Sta­dium on Tues­day. A draw would take the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle to the last week­end.

“We have been on this road for four, nearly five weeks. We wanted to get some pride and com­mit­ment back,” Moore said.

Southamp­ton, who had Ja­panese de­fender Maya Yoshida sent off in the 86th minute, were crushed by Davies’s late in­ter­ven­tion.

But Mark Hughes’ side do climb out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, sit­ting above Swansea on goal dif­fer­ence head­ing into mid­week.

Hud­der­s­field, two points above the bot­tom three, are also in trou­ble as they pre­pare to face cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City to­day.

Fourth-placed Tot­ten­ham’s de­feat leaves them five points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea, who can close the gap in the race to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League if they beat Liv­er­pool to­day.

At the bet365 Sta­dium, Stoke had hope of stay­ing up when Xher­dan Shaqiri scored with a 43rd-minute free-kick.

But James McArthur equalised in the 68th minute and Pa­trick van Aan­holt slot­ted in Palace’s win­ner with four min­utes left.

Stoke goal­keeper Jack But­land was in tears at the fi­nal whis­tle and City fans were just as emo­tional as the re­al­i­sa­tion of their team’s rel­e­ga­tion sank in.

Hun­dreds left in the clos­ing min­utes be­fore those that re­mained sang “City til I die” in a de­fi­ant ral­ly­ing cry.

The blame for Stoke’s predica­ment lies jointly with Lam­bert and Mark Hughes, who was sacked in Jan­uary af­ter a wretched run cul­mi­nated with an em­bar­rass­ing FA Cup third round de­feat against fourth-tier Coven­try.

Hughes could suf­fer the in­dig­nity of hav­ing a role in two rel­e­ga­tions in one sea­son if his Southamp­ton side go down.

Swansea missed a chance to boost their sur­vival bid as Bournemouth won 1-0 at Dean Court. Ryan Fraser blasted home with a quick free-kick from the edge of the area in the 37th minute.

West Ham look set to avoid rel­e­ga­tion af­ter a 2-0 win at Le­ices­ter, Wat­ford beat New­cas­tle 2-1 at Vicarage Road to guar­an­tee their top-flight sta­tus.

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