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‘Fireman Sam’ starts rescue with WBA win

Brighton & Hove Albion and West Bromwich Albion have both picked up vital wins in their fight for Premier League survival while West Ham United have moved into the top eight.

A goal by Neal Maupay gave Brighton a 1-0 win at Leeds to pull them away from the relegation zone while West Brom won 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers for their first victory under Sam Allardyce.

Michail Antonio scored the only goal as West Ham beat lowly Burnley 1-0 to go eighth.

Maupay won it for Brighton at Leeds after just 17 minutes, enough to lift them up to 16th, now five points above the bottom three. Leeds stayed 12th.

At Wolves, two penalties from Matheus Pereira helped the Baggies earn a 3-2 victory at their biggest rivals and prompted hopes that Allardyce could lead one of the rescue acts that has seen him dubbed ‘Fireman Sam’.

The result means West Brom are now one point behind third-bottom Fulham and five points from safety.

“Overall it was a fantastic victory. It was the (number) of chances we created which pleased me most. I haven’t seen us create that many chances,” said Allardyce.

“A win was very important at this moment in time. The attitude, work-rate and determination of the players, that’s brought us a big, big victory.”

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was dejected, not least since his side had overturned Pereira’s first penalty with Fabio Silva and Willy Boly making it 2-1 just before half-time.

But Semi Ajayi levelled soon after the break for West Brom and Pereira then won it for the visitors with a second penalty 35 minutes from time.

Even without two key players, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and winger Matt Phillips, who have contracted COVID-19, West Brom managed to boost their survival hopes with their first win since beating Sheffield United on November 28.

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