Sunday Times

West Ham top-4 hopes dealt a blow


● West Ham United’s top-four hopes were dealt a big blow as Joe Willock’s late header earned Newcastle United a 3-2 home win in a see-saw clash yesterday — a result that put the hosts within sight of Premier League safety.

The London club capitulate­d in the first half with an Issa Diop own goal and a Lukasz Fabianski blunder that allowed Joelinton to give Newcastle a 2-0 lead at the interval, while West Ham also had Craig Dawson sent off.

But the second half saw the London side, who could have moved into third spot with a win, produce a stunning revival. Diop scored at the right end to give West Ham hope in the 73rd minute, and Jesse Lingard converted a penalty to make it 2-2 with little under 10 minutes remaining.

But there was a final cruel twist for the visitors as Newcastle substitute Willock headed home a late winner.

West Ham could not respond again. The loss means they stay in fourth place on 55 points from 32 games, one point above Chelsea and three above Liverpool, both of whom have a game in hand.

Newcastle’s second successive win after going seven games without one lifts them nine points clear of third-from-bottom Fulham and up into relative safety in 15th place.

West Ham’s unlikely challenge for a Champions League place has been a rollercoas­ter ride in recent weeks, and yesterday proved no exception.

In their previous three games West Ham had taken 3-0 leads in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal and 3-2 wins over Wolverhamp­ton Wanderers and Leicester City.

The Hammers face Chelsea in their next game but after that their run-in looks promising and belief is growing that West Ham, who have not finished in the top four in the top-flight since 1986, are on the cusp of something incredible.

But yesterday’s loss put a big dent in that dream —

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