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Leeds in relegation peril after West Ham defeat, Brighton seal Euro place

Leeds slipped closer to relegation from the Premier League after a 3-1 defeat against West Ham in their penultimate game of the season on Sunday.

Sam Allardyce’s side blew the lead at the London Stadium as Rodrigo’s opener was erased by goals from Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini.

Leeds remain third bottom and sit two points adrift of fourth bottom Everton, with both teams having just one game left.

Even if Leeds beat Tottenham at home on the final day of the season, the Yorkshire club would still be relegated if Everton win their last game against Bournemouth at Goodison Park.

Leeds, whose goal difference is three worse than Everton’s, are likely to need the Toffees to lose to have a chance of staying up.

Second bottom Leicester, three points from safety, have slender hopes of avoiding relegation with games at Newcastle on Monday and West Ham on the final day.

Leeds, who last played in the Championship in 2020, have lost twice and drawn once in three games since Allardyce replaced the sacked Javi Gracia earlier this month.

Allardyce had labelled Leeds’ trip to his former club West Ham as a “cup final”.

But the defeat means Leeds need a repeat of last season’s final day escape when they won at Brentford to climb out of the bottom three.

Just three days from beating AZ Alkmaar to reach the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina, West Ham made six changes.

Leeds scented a chance to seize the momentum and they took it the 17th minute with a goal straight from Allardyce’s favoured direct game-plan.

Weston McKenzie’s long throw reached Rodrigo in the heart of the West Ham area and the Spanish striker volleyed a fine finish past Lukasz Fabianski.

Despite having little to play for with their own safety secured, West Ham responded well and Joel Robles had to use his legs to save Tomas Soucek’s close-range effort.

Leeds prayers unanswered

A section of Leeds’ travelling support had come to east London dressed as nuns, but if Allardyce was hoping for divine intervention in the relegation battle, his prayers were not answered.

In what could be his final home game for the club amid speculation linking him with Arsenal, West Ham captain Rice equalised in the 32nd minute, meeting Bowen’s cross with a cool finish at the far post.

Leeds suffered another blow when injury-plagued striker Patrick Bamford limped off.

West Ham enjoyed total dominance after the equaliser, with Robles making good saves to deny Emerson, Lucas Paqueta and Soucek.

Allardyce’s men finally cracked again in the 72nd minute when Danny Ings’ pass teed up Bowen for a deft strike that survived a VAR check for offside.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Brighton secured European football for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win against Southampton.

Brighton’s Evan Ferguson netted with composed strikes in the 29th and 40th minutes.

Mohamed Elyounoussi got one back for already relegated Southampton after 58 minutes, but Pascal Gross wrapped up the Seagulls’ victory.

Roberto De Zerbi’s sixth placed side will play in the Europa League if take a point from their last two games against Manchester City and Aston Villa.

Brighton’s vastly superior goal difference to seventh placed Villa should ensure they don’t drop into the Europa Conference League regardless of their last two matches.

Later on Sunday, Manchester City will stage their title-winning party when Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium.

City were crowned champions for the fifth time in the last six seasons on Saturday after second placed Arsenal lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.

Pep Guardiola’s side are set to be presented with the trophy as they celebrate a third successive title.

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