May 5, 2018 / 4:37 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer-Stoke relegated as West Brom Houdini act continues

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Stoke City’s 10-year stay in the Premier League ended on Saturday following a 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace in a dramatic penultimate round of matches.

Never-say-die West Bromwich Albion kept their hopes alive of pulling off one of the great escapes with a last-gasp 1-0 win over top-four aristocrats Tottenham Hotspur.

West Brom took their unbeaten run under caretaker manager Darren Moore to five matches with a stoppage-time winner from Jake Livermore, although their celebrations could be quickly cut short as they will go down if Southampton win the late game at Everton.

With two more teams for the drop to the Championship, Swansea City remained in a parlous position one point above the relegation zone after a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth and they too would be plunged into the bottom three if Southampton earn a point.

West Brom jumped on to 31 points, leapfrogging doomed Stoke on 30, with both sides having one game left in the final week.

Southampton have 32 points, with three games to play, while Swansea have 33 with two games left, including a home match against Southampton on Tuesday.

Stoke’s faint hopes were briefly revived in the early kickoff as Xherdan Shaqiri’s deflected free kick just before halftime put them ahead against Palace.

Yet Roy Hodgson’s resurgent side, dominant after the break as Stoke were gripped by nervy caution, equalised after a sharp counter-attack through James McArthur before a Ryan Shawcross mistake let in Patrick van Aanholt for the 86th-minute winner.

Despite overseeing a 13-match winless streak, Stoke’s worst run in a top-tier season for 34 years, manager Paul Lambert saluted the effort of his players.

“This club has to bounce right back up,” he said. “The club is too big not to. It will regroup and it’s got the right infra-structure in place to do it.”

Albion’s revival is beggaring belief. Their relegation after weeks of defying the prophets of doom-mongers seemed assured as the game against Spurs went into added time but Livermore forced the ball over the line from close range in a manic finish.

Both Bournemouth, who beat Swansea with a Ryan Fraser goal, and Crystal Palace ensured their safety for another season and West Ham United look set to join them after a deserved 2-0 victory at Leicester City.

Tottenham’s defeat left them fourth on 71 points and gave Chelsea new hope that they might steal the fourth Champions league spot if they can move on 69 points by beating Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond

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