Soccer-West Ham top-four hopes dented by Brighton draw


Soccer Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 15, 2021 West Ham United's Said Benrahma scores their first goal Pool via REUTERS/Ian Walton

BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) -West Ham United's fading hopes of finishing in the Premier League's top four suffered another setback when they were held to a 1-1 draw at lowly Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Hammers, who had lost three of their previous four league games, are also in danger of missing out on a Europa League berth.

The result left West Ham sixth on 59 points from 36 games, five adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea with two matches left and one behind fifth-placed Liverpool who have a game in hand.

"It's obviously horrible because we had the Champions League in our sights," West Ham midfielder Declan Rice told Sky Sports. "We can't be relying on other teams to lose. We've drawn too many and lost a few."

Danny Welbeck fired Brighton into an 83rd-minute lead against the run of play with his 50th Premier League goal before substitute Said Benrahma levelled with his first, a superb shot from the edge of the area in the 87th.

West Ham upped the tempo in the closing stages of the first half and their forward Pablo Fornals was denied by a last-gasp tackle by Pascal Gross.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh twice went close for Brighton after the break, firing wide from a tight angle after West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski had parried the Iranian midfielder's fierce shot moments earlier.

When the match seemed to be heading for a goalless draw, Welbeck gave Brighton the lead with a dinked finish but their joy was short-lived as Benrahma picked up a loose ball and curled it past keeper Robert Sanchez.

Brighton stayed 17th on 38 points.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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