Crystal Palace boosted their bid for Premier League survival with a crucial 2-0 win at Huddersfield, but West Bromwich Albion look destined for relegation after an agonising 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday.
With several of the Premier League’s big guns on FA Cup quarter-final duty this weekend, the focus in a reduced top-flight fixture list turned to the battle to avoid relegation.
After four successive defeats, Palace climbed out of the relegation zone with a victory that carried the added bonus of dragging Huddersfield back into trouble.
Palace took the lead in the 23rd minute at the John Smith’s Stadium when James Tomkins struck from close range after his first effort was blocked by Jonas Lossl.
Roy Hodgson’s team wrapped up the points in the 68th minute when Luka Milivojevic stroked home a penalty after Andros Townsend was fouled by Mathias Jorgensen.
Palace’s first win in eight league games leaves them two points above the bottom three.
Huddersfield are three points clear of Southampton, who drop into the relegation zone.
“It is vitally important. We have had a difficult run of games and not got any points,” Hodgson said.
“To get something here at least puts us back in some sort of equilibrium. I don’t think I have ever had a feeling we are on a slide.”
While Palace remain hopeful of retaining their lucrative top-flight berth, bottom-of-the-table West Brom appear certain to slide into the Championship.
Albion went in front in the 49th minute at Dean Court when Kieran Gibbs crossed to Salomon Rondon, whose header was met by Jay Rodriguez with a fierce finish for his first goal since January.
But Jordon Ibe levelled for Bournemouth in the 77th minute with a fine strike that curled past Ben Foster.
Albion were wilting and Junior Stanislas gave Bournemouth their first win in five league games with an 89th-minute free-kick.
West Brom’s seventh successive defeat equals their longest losing streak in the Premier League.
They have won just one of their 17 league matches under Alan Pardew and lie nine points from safety with only seven matches left.
“This was an opportunity to just get a win and get our confidence up, instead we have had a really hurtful blow,” Pardew said.
“The team deserved more than they got. It is really hard on our players.”
Cenk Tosun’s double pushed Stoke deeper into the relegation mire as Everton won 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium.
In a snow blizzard in the Potteries, Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam lost his cool in the 30th minute when his reckless lunge on Wayne Rooney earned a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson.
Everton had lost their last five away league games, but Tosun’s 69th-minute strike put them in front.
When Dominic Calvert-Lewin tried to bundle in, Konstantinos Stafylidis could only hack clear to Tosun, who smashed in from close range.
Second-bottom Stoke, three points from safety after one win in their last 12 league games, looked like snatching a point in the 77th minute when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting converted Joe Allen’s cross.
But Tosun had the final word with his fourth goal in his last three appearances, the Turkey striker netting with an agile diving header in the 84th minute.