3 May 2015

Man Utd stumble, Burnley and QPR on brink

9:04 am on 3 May 2015

West Bromwich Albion have dealt Manchester United's hopes of automatic Champions League qualification a blow with a 1-0 Premier League football victory at Old Trafford.

Patrick McNair of Manchester United looks dejected.

Patrick McNair of Manchester United looks dejected. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

West Brom took a 64th-minute lead when Chris Brunt's free-kick cannoned into the net off teammate Jonas Olsson and goalkeeper Boaz Myhill preserved their advantage by saving a Robin van Persie penalty.

It meant that United fell to a third consecutive Premier League defeat for the first time since December 2001, following previous losses at Chelsea and Everton.

Victory would have provisionally taken Louis van Gaal's side into second place, but they were left two points below both Manchester City and Arsenal, having played a game more than the former and two more than the latter.

With only three games left to play, it leaves United struggling to avoid finishing in fourth place, which would oblige them to enter next season's Champions League in the play-off round.

Having not won at Old Trafford since 1978 prior to last season, West Brom have now won on their last two visits, with the latest success effectively rubber-stamping their survival.

At the other end of the table, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers were both left on the verge of relegation after narrow defeats.

Bottom club Burnley, promoted last season, lost 1-0 at West Ham United, who prevailed through a 24th-minute Mark Noble penalty after visiting defender Michael Duff had been sent off for a foul on Cheikhou Kouyate.

QPR are only a point better off following a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool that took place against a sombre backdrop following the death of Rebecca Ellison, the wife of QPR defender Rio Ferdinand, from breast cancer.

Players from both teams sported black armbands.

"It is an extremely difficult time for Rio and his family," said QPR manager Chris Ramsey.

"It puts all this in its place. We would have liked to win today, but thoughts are now with Rio. Hopefully his family can pull together after this untimely tragedy."

Sunderland moved in the opposite direction after Jordi Gomez scored two penalties in a 2-1 win at home to Southampton, who replied through Sadio Mane and had James Ward-Prowse sent off.

The victory left Dick Advocaat's side a point below fourth-bottom Leicester City with a game in hand.

Aston Villa likewise bolstered their chances of avoiding the drop as Christian Benteke took his tally to 11 goals in nine games with a brace in a 3-2 win over Everton.

Leicester enhanced their survival hopes with a one-sided 3-0 home win over flatlining Newcastle United, with Leonardo Ulloa scoring twice and captain Wes Morgan also finding the net.

Elsewhere, Jefferson Montero and Ki Sung-yeung scored late goals as Swansea City won 2-0 at home to Stoke City, who had Marc Wilson sent off.

Long-time leaders Chelsea will look to secure the title tomorrow morning (NZ time) when they host Crystal Palace needing three points to become champions.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.