Chelsea the big winners in EPL top-4 race

·2-min read

Chelsea have made a significant move in the Premier League's frenetic battle to qualify for the Champions League, a competition the club's hierarchy secretly tried to destroy in their ill-fated attempt to form a European Super League.

A 1-0 win at West Ham United, coupled with Liverpool conceding a stoppage-time goal to draw with lowly Newcastle United 1-1 at Anfield, resulted in Chelsea opening up a gap to their two closest rivals for a top-four finish.

With five rounds remaining, Chelsea occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification place - three points ahead of West Ham and four clear of sixth-placed Liverpool.

"It was a six-pointer," said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, whose team's packed end to the season also includes an FA Cup final against Leicester City and a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Timo Werner secured the win for the Blues with just his second league goal since November 7 - the Germany striker scoring from close range after Ben Chilwell's low cross in the 43rd minute.

West Ham's Fabian Balbuena was sent off in the 81st for following through on a clearance by landing his studs on the back of Chilwell's right leg.

Tuchel congratulated each of his players on the field after the final whistle at the Olympic Stadium, a contrast to the reaction of Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp after a dramatic finish at Anfield.

Joe Willock's deflected goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, to cancel out Mohamed Salah's third-minute strike, was a huge blow to the Reds' top-four aspirations.

"I didn't see that we deserved today playing Champions League next season," a deflated Klopp said.

"We learn, or we don't play Champion League."

A failure to reach the Champions League will be painful for a club whose American ownership, Fenway Sports Group, were one of the key instigators in the scheme to set up the breakaway Super League.

Salah's 20th goal of the season makes him the first Liverpool player to score at least that many in three different Premier League campaigns.

Brighton & Hove Albion are still not safe from the drop after losing at already-relegated Sheffield United 1-0.

David McGoldrick scored in the 19th minute for the Blades' first win under caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom.

Brighton stay seven points clear of third-to-last Fulham.