Sheffield relegated; West Ham put top-4 finish at risk

Sports Desk, Apr 17 (EFE).- Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday as the result of their loss to Wolverhampton hours after Newcastle United beat West Ham United.

Their 26th defeat of the campaign left the Blades on 14 points, 19 from safety with six matches left to play, though the writing had been on the wall for months as the side had the worst start to the season of any club in the history of the English top flight.

Sheffield began the contest in Wolverhampton knowing that only a victory would be enough in the wake of the hard-fought Newcastle triumph that lifted the Magpies to 15th place with 35 points.

The hosts, safe from regulation and well out of contention for the European places, had to work harder than expected against a dispirited Sheffield squad who had lost their last four games in the Premier League.

After a scoreless first half at Molineux, Adama Traore charged down the right side into the Sheffield area before crossing to Willian Jose, who put the ball past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-0.

The Blades’ best opportunity to draw level came with nine minutes left in regulation on an effort by Oliver Norwood that tested Wolves keeper Rui Patricio.

Saturday’s opening match in Newcastle offered a lot more in the way of goals and incident.

Both keepers – Martin Dubravka for the hosts and Lukasz Fabianski for the Hammers – were called into action before the 20th minute, while West Ham’s Craig Dawson drew a yellow card for bringing down Joelinton.

In the 36th minute, a giveaway by Dawson sent Allan Saint-Maximin charging toward goal and the Frenchman tried his luck. West Ham’s Issa Diop moved to block the shot, but instead back-heeled the ball into his own net.

Making matters worse for the visitors, Dawson picked up a second yellow card for a hit on Joelinton.

West Ham found themselves trailing 2-0 in the 41st minute after Fabianski fumbled his attempt to catch a corner and the ball fell to Joelinton for the tap-in.

Despite their being down a man, the Hammers looked like a different side in the second half, forcing a pair of clutch saves from Dubravka before Diop atoned for his mistake by heading-in a cross from Jarrod Bowen in the 73rd minute to halve the deficit.

Four minutes later, Newcastle’s Ciaran Clark was cited for a hand ball in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Manchester United-loanee Jesse Lingard converted to bring West Ham level.

As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Magpies coach Steve Bruce made what turned out to be an inspired substitution, replacing Sean Longstaff with Joe Willock, on loan from Arsenal.

On what may have been his first touch, Willock got his head to a Matt Richie cross to put Newcastle ahead 3-2 in the 82nd minute and the lead held up.

While West Ham remain fourth with 55 points, they lead Chelsea by just 2 points and Liverpool by 3. And both of those teams have a game in hand on the Hammers. EFE


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