London: Tottenham and Chelsea slipped up in the Premier League’s top-four race on Wednesday as David Moyes made an immediate impact on his return to West Ham during a busy programme of New Year’s Day football.
Chelsea remain in pole position to secure the fourth Champions League qualification place but manager Frank Lampard will rue conceding a spectacular late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Brighton.
Those dropped points gave Jose Mourinho’s Spurs the chance to crank up the pressure on Chelsea and Manchester United but they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Southampton and England captain Harry Kane limped off with a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere at the top of the table, second-placed Leicester cruised to a 3-0 win at Newcastle and Manchester City beat Everton 2-1 to hand Carlo Ancelotti his first defeat since taking over as manager.
Earlier on Wednesday, Cesar Azpilicueta gave Chelsea the lead on England’s south coast, tapping in from close range in the 10th minute.
But Brighton scored the goal their persistence deserved in the 84th minute when Iranian substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner with an overhead kick to give his team a share of the points.
“It was frustrating for different reasons,” Lampard told BT Sport. “In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren’t ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession. But we just didn’t kill the game off.
“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game.”
Tottenham travelled to inform Southampton with the chance to overtake Manchester United and move three points behind Chelsea but they fell behind to a 17th-minute Danny Ings goal.
Mourinho’s men were laboured in attack. Kane injured himself as he converted Christian Eriksen’s free-kick in the second half but was flagged offside before hobbling down the tunnel.
Mourinho’s frustration boiled over as he was shown a yellow card after an altercation with the Southampton bench.
“I was rude,” the Spurs boss said. “I clearly deserved the yellow card. I had bad words.”
Leicester appear to have put a mini-slump behind them, beating Newcastle 3-0 courtesy of goals from Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury to move to within 10 points of leaders Liverpool.
Newcastle were forced to play almost the entire second half with just 10 men after Fabian Schaer was injured following all three substitutions.
City remain in third after their home win against Everton, a single point behind Leicester.
Gabriel Jesus scored twice in the second half at the Etihad before Richarlison pulled a goal back for Everton but City held on despite some nervy moments.
“We played great so I am delighted for the guys,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “This period is so tough. We did really well. Three more points and closer to Leicester.
“When you are far away from the first position sometimes people give up, but we never give up. We have to keep going. We have FA Cup then the (League) Cup. Other teams dropped points for the top four so it was an important win.”
Struggling West Ham made a flying start under Moyes, returning to the London Stadium for a second stint as manager, hammering hapless Bournemouth 4-0 and lifting themselves out of the relegation zone, with the visitors now in the bottom three.
Mark Noble scored either side of a Sebastien Haller effort and Felipe Anderson bagged the fourth midway through the second half to complete the rout.
“The players were magnificent from the start, they bought into the idea to get the supporters back onside and they did,” Moyes said. “I think it was a fabulous performance and fabulous result.”
Watford continued their impressive run under new manager Nigel Pearson, holding on to beat seventh-placed Wolves 2-1 with goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure despite later being reduced to 10 men.
Villa beat Burnley 2-1 with first-half goals from Wesley and Jack Grealish while Norwich drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United kicked off against Arsenal in the late match while Liverpool face Sheffield United on Thursday. — AFP