Evan Ferguson scores twice as Brighton book European spot

Premier League wrap: Leeds lose again to leave themselves facing the drop

Brighton 3 Southampton 1

Brighton secured European football for the first time and all but ensured it will be in the Europa League after Evan Ferguson’s brace helped them to a 3-1 home victory over relegated Southampton.

The 18-year-old Irish international inked his name in Albion’s history books with a brace before the break to edge his side towards their first continental berth.

Mohamed Elyounoussi made things interesting when he headed home to narrow the deficit in the second half, which also saw VAR chalk off a potential Saints equaliser before Pascal Gross put the game away.


Sixth-placed Brighton, who have a game in hand, could still finish level on points with Aston Villa below them, but their final-day opponents would have to overcome a near-impossible goal difference to finish above the Seagulls and clinch the Europa League spot.

The big occasion was marked by the appearance of a band from North Carolina State University who lifted nervous spirits in the sold-out stands with a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline from trumpets and sousaphones.

Kaoru Mitoma sent a shot just wide of the right post in the eighth minute after a slightly shaky start for the hosts, who saw Pervis Estupinan’s attempt from distance easily handled by Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Theo Walcott could have handed Southampton the lead when, unmarked, he collected a cross from Carlos Alcaraz but somehow sent his effort wide.

Closer still was Mitoma’s second opportunity, a lucky break when Jan Bednarek stumbled to set him free inside the six-yard box but the Seagull squandered the golden chance as he pinged it low off the post.

Soon, however, Brighton took the lead through 18-year-old Ferguson, who collected Alexis Mac Allister’s pass at the edge of the area and fired home his fifth Premier League goal of the campaign with a low strike that went straight through McCarthy.

Ferguson’s second was the result of some fine work from Mitoma to challenge Romeo Lavia for the ball at the halfway line, with officials dismissing the midfielder’s protests as he tumbled to the ground.

Mitoma scrambled down the left before teeing up the onrushing Irishman, who took his tally to 10 across all competitions this season with a finish in the bottom left corner.

The Japan international nearly added another in stoppage time but the two-goal advantage stood at the break.

Gross rolled a weak effort at Alex McCarthy to start the second half, which started more brightly for the visitors as they increasingly encroached on Brighton’s territory.

And they pulled one back in the 58th minute when Elyounoussi headed James Ward-Prowse’s corner.

Suddenly, it seemed like everything was unravelling for Albion.

Ward-Prowse played through Theo Walcott who lifted the ball over Jason Steele, but the home support released a collective breath after the potential equaliser was chalked off after a VAR check.

Moments later Gross extended the hosts’ advantage, picking up the ball – which had bounced in his direction from an aerial challenge – and took his time before firing in his 26th Premier League goal for Brighton, drawing him level with Glenn Murray and Neal Maupay for the club record.

Brighton, and an increasingly animated Roberto De Zerbi, wanted more and had late chances through Mac Allister and Deniz Undav, but no Seagull was rueing missed chances when the final whistle blew after a nervy seven minutes of stoppage time.

West Ham 3 Leeds 1

Leeds were shoved to the brink of relegation from the Premier League after their ‘must-win’ match at West Ham ended in a 3-1 defeat.

Sam Allardyce’s rescue mission reached crisis point after goals from Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini denied them the victory their new manager admitted they needed to have any realistic chance of staying up.

Allardyce arrived at Elland Road as a last-ditch appointment with four games to go, but his first three matches have provided just two points.

Now Leeds need to beat Tottenham next weekend and hope a Bournemouth side with nothing to play for can do them an almighty favour at Everton.

Moreover, should Leicester beat Newcastle on Monday night, the Whites will start the final day second from bottom.

They got off to a great start at the London Stadium as well, with Rodrigo volleying them into an early lead.

But Rice, named West Ham’s player of the year before kick-off – six years to the day since he made his debut against Burnley – marked what is likely to be his last home game for the club by equalising with his 15th goal in claret and blue.

The Hammers, safe from relegation and with a Europa Conference League final to look forward, should have been easy pickings. They even walked out carrying their children as mascots, giving a distinct end-of-season feel to proceedings.

But Bowen’s 12th goal of the season and a late strike from Lanzini saw them sign off from the London Stadium with only their second win in six matches to leave Leeds in deep, deep trouble.

Yet Leeds took a deserved lead after 17 minutes, albeit thanks to some awful defending.

West Ham had conceded to a long throw at Brentford last weekend but clearly had not learned their lesson. Fiorentina, their European opponents in Prague next month, should take note.

This time they somehow let a throw from Weston McKennie float on to the left boot of Rodrigo, who swept it first time into the net from 10 yards out.

However, Leeds lost Patrick Bamford to injury moments later, and with him went much of their attacking spark.

The Hammers may have been off the pace, but they equalised in the 32nd minute with a delightful goal from Rice.

Pablo Fornals, the goalscoring hero at AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night, scooped the ball over the Leeds defence to Bowen, whose chip across goal was sidefooted into the ground and up into the roof of the net by the England midfielder, who has been heavily linked with a big-money summer move.

Leeds should have gone back in front before half-time when Rodrigo robbed Kurt Zouma and cut the ball back but Wilfried Gnonto, on for Bamford, took an air-shot before Jack Harrison sliced his shot wide.

Allardyce’s response on the touchline, throwing his arms in the air in frustration, said it all.

Leeds, bafflingly, were the more passive team after the break with goalkeeper Joel Robles having to beat away a long-range drive from Lucas Paqueta and tip Tomas Soucek’s header over.

They paid the price with 18 minutes left when Danny Ings played in Bowen, who slipped the ball past Robles.

Then substitute Lanzini, another likely to leave West Ham in the summer, tucked in Paqueta’s cutback – despite a VAR check appearing to show the Brazilian was offside – to send Leeds spinning to what looks likely to be an extremely costly defeat.