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Leagues: EPL

West Ham’s top four bid rocked as Man City prepare for Liverpool showdown


London (AFP) – West Ham’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four suffered a major blow in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford, while title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool prepared for their blockbuster showdown later on Sunday.

City are top of the Premier League as they look to retain the title, but second-placed Liverpool arrived at the Etihad Stadium trailing the champions by just one point.

A win for Pep Guardiola’s side would put them firmly on course to win the trophy for the fourth time in five seasons, but Liverpool knew a victory would leave them in pole position for a second top-flight crown in three years. 

As the football world eagerly awaited the potential title decider, the focus in the day’s early games was on Champions League qualification and relegation fears.

In the top four race, West Ham look set to miss out after a damaging loss in west London.

Brentford struck in the 48th minute when Ivan Toney’s flick reached Bryan Mbuemo for a thunderous low finish.

Mbuemo returned the favour with an assist for Toney as the striker headed home in the 64th minute.

David Moyes’ sixth-placed side are now six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game less than their London rivals.

At the other end of the table, Norwich kept alive their faint hopes of beating the drop with a 2-0 win against fellow strugglers Burnley at Carrow Road.

Dean Smith’s side took the lead in the ninth minute when a corner was only cleared to Pierre Lees-Melou on the edge of the area and his fierce drive deflected in off Josh Brownhill.

Teemu Pukki put the result beyond doubt with a lethal finish Mathias Normann’s 86th-minute pass.

Bottom-of-the-table Norwich are seven points from safety with seven games remaining.

It was a hammer blow for Burnley after their midweek win against relegation rivals Everton had renewed their hopes of staying up.

Third-bottom Burnley are four points adrift of fourth-bottom Everton, with both teams having eight matches to play.

Leicester beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at the King Power Stadium as Ademola Lookman bagged his first goal since February.

Latching onto Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s pass, Lookman cut inside Joachim Andersen and fired past Vicente Guaita in the 39th minute.

Dewsbury-Hall went from provider to scorer on the stroke of half-time, holding off Cheikhou Kouyate to net after Marc Guehi’s mistake allowed Patson Daka to tee up the midfielder.

Wilfried Zaha got one back for Palace in bizarre fashion in the 66th minute.

After Youri Tielemans conceded a penalty with a foul on Jordan Ayew, Zaha’s initial spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

However, Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu had encroached and when Zaha’s retaken penalty was saved again by Schmeichel, the Ivorian was on hand to head in the rebound.

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