Aston Villa 2 Norwich 0
Norwich suffered relegation back to the Championship as Dean Smith’s return to Aston Villa ended in a 2-0 Premier League defeat.
A 10th loss in 12 meant the yo-yo specialists made it four straight seasons which have ended in either promotion or relegation, a painful way for Smith to mark his return to the ground where he began the season in charge.
Defeat was down to goals from Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, the second somewhat cruelly created by former Norwich man Emi Buendia, though the killer blows were applied 90 miles south at Vicarage Road where Burnley scored twice in four minutes late on to come from behind and beat Watford 2-1.
That left Norwich 13 points adrift of safety with four games left to play.
For Villa, this was a first win in five to lift them to 13th place, a timely win for Steven Gerrard given his side started the afternoon in 15th, only one higher than they were when Smith was sacked in November.
Watford 1 Burnley 2
Burnley came back from a goal down in the final 10 minutes to move five points clear of the bottom three with a 2-1 win at Watford which confirmed Norwich’s relegation.
The pressure at the bottom of the table has shifted on to 18th-placed Everton and Leeds, who dropped to 17th following Burnley’s win.
An own goal from James Tarkowski handed the home side the lead, and the visitors can consider themselves unlucky with the manner of the goal, as Juraj Kucka’s strike rebounded off the crossbar and into the net off the back of the Burnley defender.
Burnley left it late to find a leveller, with Jack Cork heading in an 83rd-minute equaliser before Josh Brownhill’s strike sealed the comeback victory for the visitors.
The Hornets had started the game second from bottom and nine points behind their opponents with five games remaining, however they now require wins in all their remaining matches this season as well as a big goal-difference swing to remain in the top flight.
Burnley’s turnaround after parting company with Sean Dyche continued, with the Clarets taking 10 points from four games since Mike Jackson took over at Turf Moor.
Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 2
Wilfried Zaha came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner for Crystal Palace as they snatched a 2-1 win at Southampton.
The Eagles looked to have rescued a point when Eberechi Eze scored his first goal of the season to cancel out Oriol Romeu’s early goal, but a moment of magic from Zaha saw Palace leave St Mary’s with all three points.
The result lifts Patrick Vieira’s side above Southampton and within touching distance of the top half of the table with four games left to play.
Vieira had left Zaha on the bench after a bruising encounter at Leeds in the Eagles’ last outing, but he came on for the final 25 minutes to remind everyone just how indispensable he is to the club.
Wolves 0 Brighton 3
Dominant Brighton strolled to victory at Wolves to set a new club record and deliver a hammer blow to the hosts’ European hopes.
The Seagulls posted a new record points tally in the Premier League with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Molineux.
Alex Mac Allister recovered from an earlier penalty miss to score from the spot before Leandro Trossard and Yves Bissouma wrapped up victory.
Brighton climbed to ninth – on 44 points – to inflict Wolves’ heaviest home defeat of the season.
A third straight loss without scoring left the hosts five points above in eighth and three behind West Ham, in the final European spot.
The listless hosts never threatened and face a battle to return to Europe with three of their final four games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.