Round-up: Sako strike sees Crystal Palace edge Burnley
West Brom earn first league win since August, Newcastle held at home by Swansea
Crystal Palace’s Bakary Sako celebrates scoring his side’s early winner against Burnley. Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA
Crystal Palace 1 Burnley 0
Crystal Palace took a further step towards Premier League survival with a 1-0 victory over Burnley which extended the visitors’ winless run to seven games.
The Clarets climbed to fourth with victory over Stoke last month but have struggled to impress since, and came up short again against a Palace side missing eight first-team regulars.
A second goal in two games from Bakary Sako was enough to secure the three points for the Eagles that would take the hosts up to 12th, and into serious contention for a top-10 finish having looked like near-certainties for relegation a few weeks ago.
Sako had retained his place after impressing with a fine goal in Monday’s FA Cup third-round defeat at Brighton and quickly demonstrated the confidence with which he is playing with an early run into the Burnley penalty area. However, he wasted his finest chance to shoot and was then dispossessed by a well-timed sliding tackle from James Tarkowski, with the appeals for a penalty rightly waved away.
From a similar position in the 21st minute he gave Palace the lead. Wilfried Zaha’s aimless pass was flicked on by Christian Benteke to Sako on the left wing and he eased into the area before shooting inside the far right post via Nick Pope’s foot.
West Bromwich Albion 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
West Brom’s long wait for a Premier League win finally ended as Brighton were beaten 2-0 at The Hawthorns.
Jonny Evans’ early header set Albion on their way to halting a 20-game run stretching back to August, with fellow defender Craig Dawson heading in a second goal at the start of the second half.
The result will also have been a weight off Alan Pardew’s shoulders as it gave him that elusive first league victory since he took over as manager nine matches ago at the start of December.
While it was not enough to lift West Brom out of the relegation zone, coming on the back of last weekend’s FA Cup win at Exeter Pardew will hope it further raises confidence with tough games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea coming up in the next month.
Meanwhile, Brighton’s woeful away form continues to see them slide down the table and Chris Hughton’s team are now just three points clear of the bottom three, four in front of West Brom, after a sixth successive goalless game on the road — a run which includes five defeats.
Newcastle United 1 Swansea City 1
Joselu came off the bench to drag Newcastle out of even deeper relegation trouble and deny Swansea a major boost to their Premier League survival hopes.
The former Stoke striker, whose £5million signing in August was symbolic of manager Rafael Benitez’s transfer window struggle, stabbed home a 68th-minute equaliser just four minutes after his introduction to cancel out Jordan Ayew’s opener.
Newcastle dominated the first half, but squandered a series of chances and might have conceded a penalty before Ayew struck.
But on a day when defeat was simply not an option, they fought back to snatch a 1-1 draw which at least prevented bottom-of-the table Swansea from collecting three points for just the third time in 15 attempts.
Watford 2 Southampton 2
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s controversial last-gasp equaliser denied Southampton a first win in 10 matches.
The midfielder diverted the ball in with his arm a minute before full-time as Watford came from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw.
James Ward-Prowse had scored twice in the first half before Andre Gray pulled one back — and Saints were crestfallen when Doucoure’s equaliser was allowed to stand.
He stooped to nod into the net — but the ball missed his head and he swept it home with his arm.
Southampton protested long and hard to referee Roger East but to no avail, with a draw leaving them just one point above the relegation zone.
It was a cruel end to a bright display from the visitors, whose attack was superbly led by Shane Long, the architect of both their goals.
The striker certainly has a spring in his step again after ending a 35-match goal drought against Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.
He was denied by a narrow offside decision, a last-ditch tackle from Christian Kabasele and the onrushing Hornets keeper Heurelho Gomes all in the opening 15 minutes.