Stalemate keeps Brighton narrowly above drop zone

Premier League round-up: Meanwhile, Leicester struck a late equaliser against West Ham

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Diogo Jota hits the post during their Premier League game with Brighton & Hove Albion. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Diogo Jota hits the post during their Premier League game with Brighton & Hove Albion. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Brighton secured a crucial point in their battle against relegation after frustrating Wolves at Molineux.

The hosts had spent the week training in Marbella and went go-karting in their free time but stalled badly in a 0-0 draw with the Seagulls.

A hard-earned draw ended Brighton’s run of five straight defeats in all competitions and moved them three points ahead of Cardiff, who host title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday.

Diogo Jota twice hit the woodwork and Leander Dendoncker was denied by Mathew Ryan but the hosts dropped to ninth after an instantly forgettable stalemate.

Brighton, who failed to have a shot on target, appeared to be content with a draw from the start but Chris Hughton’s conservative approach may still backfire with four games left — where they face Tottenham, Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester City.

Davy Propper limped off after 10 minutes and was replaced by Beram Kayal to sum up the visitors’ recent luck.

Wolves dominated as the Seagulls struggled to escape their half but managed to keep the hosts at bay.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side failed to create clear chances in a sleepy opening half an hour, where they had 80 per cent of the possession.

They wanted a penalty when Pascal Gross tangled with Jota but referee Craig Pawson waved away their protests.

It took until the 33rd minute for Wolves to go close when Jota bundled his way through on the edge of the box and drilled inches wide.

Yet it barely raised the tempo and the pedestrian pace rarely stepped up a gear.

Adopting a safety first game plan was always a risk for Brighton and Wolves almost went in at the break ahead.

Ruben Neves’ stoppage-time strike hit Dale Stephens and looped into the box but Jota’s toe-poked volley clipped the top of Ryan’s bar.

The Seagulls, with just two league clean sheets in 2019, had defended well but barely showed any ambition to win.

The closest they came was Kayal’s 30-yard thunderbolt which whistled a yard over.

Wolves had control and Raul Jimenez sliced a half volley over with 22 minutes left.

The hosts had won only two of their past eight Premier League matches but had the Seagulls clinging on and should have won it with 16 minutes left.

Jimenez’s cross was glanced on to a post by Jota and Dendoncker was denied by Ryan’s point-blank save.

A minute later Willy Boly nodded over and Dendoncker’s headed straight at Ryan late on as Brighton held on for a point.

West Ham United 2 Leicester City 2

Harvey Barnes pulled the rug out from under West Ham as Leicester snatched a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium.

West Ham’s Lucas Perez scores their second goal. Photo: David Klein/Reuters
West Ham’s Lucas Perez scores their second goal. Photo: David Klein/Reuters

The 21-year-old substitute grabbed his first Foxes goal in stoppage time to salvage a point for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Jamie Vardy had earlier cancelled out Michail Antonio’s first-half header before Lucas Perez fired West Ham back in front nine minutes from the end.

It was a lively end to a match which for long periods had all the hallmarks of an end-of-season run in the sunshine.

West Ham laid out their new claret carpet before the game and for much of the first half the two goalkeepers could have brought armchairs along as well, such was the lack of intensity from two mid-table sides.

That changed eight minutes before the interval when Robert Snodgrass sent Mark Noble scuttling down the left.

The Hammers skipper flighted in an inviting cross for Antonio, who got in front of Ben Chilwell and headed powerfully past Schmeichel.

The winger charged off the pitch onto the new track covering and gave it a stroke in celebration.

Not since Aladdin has a carpet had so much attention — the Hammers fans even came up with a song dedicated to it in the second half.

It might not be a magic one but Antonio was certainly flying, giving Foxes left-back Chilwell the runaround in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.

However, Leicester equalised in the 67th minute when Harry Maguire fed the overlapping Chilwell down the left.

Chilwell’s low cross was met by former England striker Vardy, who had darted ahead of Fabian Balbuena to get the vital touch at the near post.

It was revitalised Vardy’s seventh goal in seven games since Rodgers took over as Leicester boss.

Substitute Perez thought he had won it when Pedro Obiang’s curler from the edge of the area came back off the foot of the post and fell nicely for the Spaniard to cushion home.

Perez then had the ball in the net again after rounding Kasper Schmeichel but was flagged offside, although replays showed he was in fact level.

It proved crucial as Youri Tielemans sliced the West Ham defence apart with a through-ball and Barnes clipped his shot past Lukasz Fabianski to ensure the Foxes did not head home empty-handed.

AFC Bournemouth 0 Fulham 1

Relegated Fulham ruined Eddie Howe’s 500th match as a manager by ending a year-long wait for an away win with a 1-0 success at Bournemouth.

Gerard Deulofeu celebrates with teammates. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Gerard Deulofeu celebrates with teammates. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s second-half penalty gave the 19th-placed Cottagers a first league victory on the road since beating Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship on April 20 last year.

The Serbia international converted from the spot after being brought down by Cherries substitute Jack Simpson to halt a goal drought dating back to January.

Victory at the Vitality Stadium, which spoilt the landmark occasion for Cherries boss Howe, strengthened the hopes of Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker landing the job on a permanent basis.

After beginning his Craven Cottage tenure with five consecutive defeats, Parker has now guided the west London club to successive league victories for the first time since promotion last May, restoring some pride at the end of a torrid season.

Mid-table Bournemouth initially stuck with the team which thrashed Brighton 5-0 last weekend but manager Howe was forced into a change when right-back Adam Smith withdrew in the warm-up due to injury.

Smith’s makeshift stand-in Junior Stanislas lasted just 23 minutes before limping off to be replaced by academy graduate Simpson, leaving the Cherries with a four-man backline comprising four centre-backs.

The hosts had begun brightly in the south-coast sunshine and Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico had to be alert to smother Callum Wilson’s early close-range header.

Wilson’s unmarked strike partner Joshua King then somehow side-footed over from only six yards out after being picked out by Ryan Fraser.

Championship-bound Fulham, buoyed by registering their first win under Parker at home to Everton last weekend, grew into the game.

Calum Chambers’ goal-bound header was nodded off the line by Nathan Ake, before captain Mitrovic wastefully volleyed over moments later having found space inside the box.

The loss of Stanislas seemed to disrupt the hosts and they again survived a scare eight minutes before the break when goalkeeper Artur Boruc got down well to repel Denis Odoi’s header from a Ryan Babel corner.

Fulham continued to threaten early in the second period and went ahead in the 53rd minute as Mitrovic made up for his earlier miss by claiming his 11th league goal of the campaign and first in 10 top-flight outings.

After being brought down in the box by a clumsy swipe from Simpson, the former Newcastle man picked himself up to calmly send Boruc the wrong way from 12 yards.

The opening goal prompted chants of “1-0 to the Championship” from a sold-out away end bathed in sunshine and they almost had more to celebrate soon after as Ryan Sessegnon was twice denied by Boruc.

Bournemouth winger David Brooks, shortlisted for the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year award earlier on Saturday, then broke away and slipped in Fraser at the other end but Rico superbly smothered the winger’s effort.

Spaniard Rico, on loan from Sevilla, was enjoying a fine afternoon and reacted well to again deny Wilson, with Cherries substitute Dominic Solanke unable to capitalise on the rebound.

The home supporters were growing increasingly frustrated and angrily called for a red card when Mitrovic barged into Ake, a challenge referee David Coote deemed worthy of only a booking.

Fulham were forced back for much of the closing stages but, despite a Brooks cross landing on top of the crossbar and six minutes of injury-time, the hosts ran out of ideas and were unable to salvage a draw.

Huddersfield Town 1 Watford 2

Gerard Deulofeu’s double earned Watford a 2-1 win at Huddersfield, who slumped to a record-equalling Premier League defeat.

Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters
Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Deulofeu produced a finish similar to his stunning effort at Wembley earlier this month in Watford’s FA Cup semi-final win over Wolves to give his side an early lead.

The Spaniard then sealed the points for the Hornets with 10 minutes to go before Huddersfield substitute Karlan Grant headed a stoppage-time consolation.

Watford’s sixth win on the road this season kept them on course for their highest Premier League finish, while relegated Huddersfield matched another unwanted record.

The Terriers, who became only the second club after Derby in 2008 to be relegated from the Premier League in March, lost their 14th league game at home this season to match Sunderland’s mark set in 2002/03 and 2004/05.

Grant’s late header at least lifted Town up to 20 league goals this season, level with Derby’s record low of 2007/08.

Huddersfield found themselves a goal down in the fifth minute following an unfortunate error.

Jonathan Hogg slipped after taking goalkeeper Jonas Lossl’s pass 20 yards from his penalty area and although, Terence Kongolo’s last-ditch tackle denied the surging Abdoulaye Doucoure, Deulofeu struck from the rebound.

The Spaniard showed the same technique he used against Wolves at Wembley, with time to pick his spot.

Huddersfield’s best early chance fell to Aaron Mooy, whose free-kick on the left edge of the area arced narrowly wide in the 17th minute.

Town winger Isaac Mbenza, back after illness and making his first start since February, tested Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster with a fierce 20-yard shot.

Huddersfield threatened again soon after. Mbenza and Tommy Smith combined down the right and, from the latter’s cross, Elias Kachunga was superbly denied by Adrian Mariappa.

Mariappa, stand-in skipper for Watford’s suspended striker Troy Deeney, snuffed out another ball in from Smith, while Huddersfield 18-year-old midfielder Matty Daly made his first-team debut just before half-time in place of Hogg.

Town striker Steve Mounie’s overhead kick cleared the crossbar shortly after the restart and, at the other end, Deulofeu forced Lossl into a low save.

Foster comfortably held Mooy’s low effort as Huddersfield maintained their game pursuit of a rare Premier League goal, but crosses from Smith and Mbenza eluded everyone in the box.

Deulofeu sealed victory for Watford in the 80th minute when he side-footed home after Lossl had saved Ken Sema’s initial shot.

Huddersfield gave their fans something to cheer in the third minute of added time when Grant, a 66th-minute replacement for Mounie, nodded home Chris Lowe’s headed pass.

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