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Antonio boosts West Ham’s top four hopes

AFP/ London

Tuesday، 04 May 2021 11:32 PM

West Ham maintained their surprise challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League as Michail Antonio scored twice to beat Burnley 2-1 on Monday night.
Chris Wood’s penalty opened the scoring for the Clarets, but Burnley failed to guarantee their Premier League survival for another season as Antonio struck twice in eight minutes. The Hammers move into fifth, just three points adrift of Chelsea, who have to travel to runaway leaders Manchester City next weekend.
West Ham, by contrast, have a favourable run in with Everton, Brighton, West Brom and Southampton to come in their final four games of the campaign. The return of Antonio from injury could prove the decisive factor for David Moyes’s men, who were battling for survival at this stage of last season.
The Jamaican missed back-to-back defeats by Newcastle and Chelsea that had rocked West Ham’s bid to finish in the top four. Another slow start saw them fall behind again when Wood was upended by Tomas Soucek and the New Zealander confidently stroked home the penalty.
However, Burnley were guilty of uncharacteristic mistakes in defending crosses into their box. Antonio’s outmuscled Matt Lowton to head home Vladimir Coufal’s cross on 21 minutes. Moments later he tapped in at the back post from Said Benrahma’s low ball into the box.
“I’m hoping with four games to go, people still talk about us and the Champions League. We want to take it down to the final day and try to sneak in,” Moyes said. “It will probably need us to win all four games. Europe would be an incredible achievement. I think I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get there now. Most of the games this season we’ve played very well. We’ve missed some players through injury which has affected us. We’ll keep going, we’re not going away.”
Moyes was glad to have Antonio back. “Antonio made a great impact. He’s come back in good condition, good shape ... he’s a big influence in the team and we’re glad to have him back,” Moyes said.
At the other end of the table, West Brom are set for a return to the Championship after just one season back in the Premier League as a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves on Monday all but ended their chances of survival.
Sam Allardyce’s men are now 10 points from safety with just 12 left to play for in the final four games of the season. The former England manager has never previously been relegated from the top flight, but the Baggies have won just four of his 22 games in charge since replacing the sacked Slaven Bilic in December.
“We owe it to everyone to keep a professional attitude and go out and try to win every game we’ve got left and hope every team above us loses every game and then, by some magic miracle and some fairy dust, we stay up,” said Allardyce.
One of those victories was away to Wolves in the Black Country derby in January. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side gained some measure of revenge by denying West Brom hope of beating the drop.
Both sides battled horrendous playing conditions under heavy rain and luck also deserted West Brom in first-half stoppage time when Kyle Bartley’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Fabio Silva and into the net to give Wolves the lead.
Mbaye Diagne levelled on 62 minutes when he headed in Conor Townsend’s cross. But West Brom could not find the winner they desperately needed and remain second bottom of the table.

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