Brighton ruin Lampard’s home return with win at Chelsea
Brighton & Hove Albion ruined Chelsea boss Frank Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge with a 2-1 comeback win on Saturday as substitutes Danny Welbeck and Julio Enciso condemned the Blues to a third defeat in three games under their interim coach.
Lampard, who rested several first-choice starters before Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid, at least saw the Blues score the first goal of his second spell in charge when Conor Gallagher’s deflected shot beat Robert Sanchez in the Brighton goal in the 13th minute.
But the visitors, under coach Roberto De Zerbi, were the better side for long spells, forcing Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga into fine saves and hitting the bar before they drew level when Welbeck squeezed between two defenders to head in off the post in the 42nd minute, shortly after coming on.
The Seagulls got the second goal that they deserved when Paraguayan Enciso scored with an unstoppable shot from 25 yards in the 69th minute, bolstering Brighton’s hopes of European football for the first time in their history next season.
“It’s important we try to pick up as many points as we can,” Welbeck told the BBC. “With the confidence in the team we know we can go anywhere and cause problems.”
Brighton hammered Chelsea 4-1 in October, a result which set in train a slump in form for the London side that led to the dismissal this month of Graham Potter as coach, six months after the Blues had poached him — and four other backroom staff — from the south-coast side to replace Thomas Tuchel.
Brighton’s fans revelled in the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs, greeting Chelsea’s expensively assembled players with chants of “What a waste of money” before kick-off as Chelsea’s American co-owner Todd Boehly looked on from the stands.
The result left Brighton seventh in the Premier League, five points ahead of Liverpool. They are also in the FA Cup semi-finals, facing Manchester United next weekend.
Chelsea remain marooned in 11th position with their only hope of any silverware this season dependent on their ability to turn around a 2-0 deficit against reigning European champions Real Madrid at home on Tuesday.
Saturday’s defeat followed a 1-0 loss away to Wolverhampton Wanderers in Lampard’s first game back as caretaker coach last weekend and the unsuccessful visit to the Spanish capital in midweek.
Tottenham blow top-four chance in defeat by Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur blew a gilt-edged chance to boost their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four as relegation battlers Bournemouth snatched a last-gasp 3-2 away win.
Dango Ouattara’s superb finish in the fifth minute of stoppage time sent the south coast club’s fans into raptures and Tottenham’s heading for the exits.
Third-placed Newcastle United’s defeat at Aston Villa opened the door for Tottenham and they duly went ahead in the 14th minute when Son Heung-min fired them into the lead.
Son was soon denied a second by a great save from Bournemouth’s Neto but fifth-placed Tottenham lost their way and a mistake at the back by Pedro Porro was punished as Matias Vina equalised for the south coast side in the 38th minute.
Bournemouth then sent the visiting fans into raptures when Dominic Solanke dinked a close-range finish past Hugo Lloris six minutes after the interval.
Tottenham, who could have gone above fourth-placed Manchester United for 24 hours at least with a win, raised their intensity level and Danjuma’s left-footed effort set up a frantic finale.
But with the hosts searching for a winner, Bournemouth broke away and the ball reached Ouattara who cut in from the left before arrowing a right-foot finish beyond Lloris.
Tottenham remain in fifth place with 53 points from 31 games, three behind Manchester United and Newcastle United who have played 29 and 30 games respectively.
Bouurnemouth’s survival prospects are now looking much rosier as they have 33 points, six points better off than third-from-bottom Nottingham Forest.
Fulham deepen Everton’s relegation woes with 3-1 win
Harry Wilson scored his first Premier League goal of the season as Fulham snapped a five-game losing run and piled the misery on relegation-threatened Everton with a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park.
Harrison Reed and Dan James also netted for the visitors as Everton battled to contain the Londoners’ precise passing and movement. Dwight McNeil scored what proved to be a consolation for the hosts.
Fulham lie 10th in the table with 42 points from 30 games, while Everton remain just outside the relegation zone with 27 points from 31 matches and only above 18th-placed Nottingham Forest on goal difference.
“It was a massive game for us, as we’ve not been the best of late,” Wilson told reporters. “It was a big game for them (Everton) but for us as well because we wanted to get back to the levels we had been earlier this season.
“We let them back into it at the end of the first half but I think in the second half as soon as we got the goal we controlled the game.”
It was a deserved victory for Fulham, only their second in 28 visits to Goodison Park, as they dominated large parts of the game and had Everton chasing shadows amid the bright sunshine on Merseyside.
Reed gave Fulham the lead midway through the first half when he picked up the loose ball after Wilson’s curling shot hit the post and fired past home goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Everton had a good spell just before halftime and were level at the break when McNeil skipped away from Reed’s challenge and drilled a shot low from the edge of the box into the bottom corner of the net.
Everton should have been ahead when striker Neal Maupay had only Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno to beat, but his shot was saved by the gloveman.
Wilson put Fulham back in front early in the second half as the ball fell to him in the box and he picked his spot against a static Everton defence.
The points were sealed with a little over 20 minutes remaining when neither James Tarkowski nor Michael Keane dealt with a long free kick and James calmly finished, sending many in the ground heading for an early exit.
“It’s hard, it’s a tough one to take. When we scored we finished the (first) half strong and could have been 2-1 up,” McNeil said. “Every game for us is massive, but it’s a tough one to take home.
“We’ve been in this position before and the lads know what we need to do to stay up. I have confidence in that but it’s tough one to take today.”
Costa grabs first Wolves goal in 2-0 win over Brentford
Striker Diego Costa netted his first goal for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the first half of a 2-0 Premier League win at home over Brentford that moved his side seven points clear of the relegation zone.
After beating Chelsea last week, Wolves are now in 13th spot on 34 points, seven clear of Nottingham Forest in 18th place. Brentford’s third straight loss leaves them in ninth place on 43 points with their hopes of European football next season fading fast.
Luck played a major part as the 34-year-old Costa, who joined the club in September 2022 from Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro, miscontrolled the ball in the box in the 27th minute but still managed to steer Christian Norgaard’s attempted clearance into the net.
The goal was Costa’s first in the Premier League since scoring for Chelsea against Middlesbrough in May 2017 en route to his second league title with the club.
The Brazilian-born former Spain international almost doubled his tally by hassling Brentford keeper David Raya into a rushed clearance shortly afterwards, and he blasted an early second-half shot from a tight angle that was turned away for a corner.
Brentford coach Thomas Frank made a triple substitution in the 61st minute but it was Wolves who extended their lead with Hwang Hee-chan pouncing on Rico Henry’s weak clearance to score in the 69th minute.
Brentford midfielder Vitaly Janelt had a header that was comfortably saved by Jose Sa before Ivan Toney hit the woodwork in second-half stoppage time as Wolves held on to win comfortably, with the beaming Costa celebrating with his team mates in front of a delighted home crowd at the final whistle.
“(Costa) is working hard to have his chance to play. Today he has played, he scored of course but he has had a very good match,” Wolves coach Julen Lopetegui told the BBC.
Brentford, who had set their sights on qualifying for Europe for the first time this season, have lost their last three games and have taken only two points from the last 15 on offer.
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