Thursday, December 9, 2021

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West Ham maintain Champions League charge with Burnley win

West Ham maintained their surprise challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League as Michail Antonio scored twice to beat Burnley 2-1 on Monday.

Chris Wood’s penalty opened the scoring for the Clarets, but Burnley failed to guarantee their Premier League survival for another season as Antonio struck twice in eight minutes to seal the deal for the Hammers.

David Moyes’ men move into fifth, just three points adrift of Chelsea, who have to travel to runaway leaders Manchester City next weekend.

West Ham, by contrast, have a favourable run-in with Everton, Brighton, West Brom and Southampton to come in their final four games of the campaign.

The return of Antonio from injury could prove the decisive factor for the Hammers, who were battling for survival at this stage of last season.

The Jamaican missed back-to-back defeats by Newcastle and Chelsea that had rocked West Ham’s bid to finish in the top four.

Another slow start saw them fall behind again when Wood was upended by Tomas Soucek and the New Zealander confidently stroked home the penalty.

However, Burnley were guilty of uncharacteristic mistakes in defending crosses into their box.

Antonio outmuscled Matt Lowton to head home Vladimir Coufal’s cross on 21 minutes.

Moments later he tapped in at the back post from Said Benrahma’s low ball into the box.

At the other end of the table, West Brom are set for a return to the Championship after just one season back in the Premier League as a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves on Monday all but ended their chances of survival.

Sam Allardyce’s men are now 10 points from safety with just 12 left to play for in the final four games of the season.

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