LONDON: A superb free kick from Andros Townsend lifted Newcastle out of the Premier League relegation zone as Rafael Benitez’s rescue mission gathered pace with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The £12m January signing struck his third goal in five games after 58 minutes to give the home side a precious lead. Then it needed a 70th-minute penalty save by Karl Darlow from ‘old boy’ Yohan Cabaye to deny Palace an equaliser.
Victory, coupled with Sunderland’s draw at Stoke, eased Newcastle out of the bottom three ahead of Norwich’s trip to Arsenal and left the 52,107 crowd dreaming of a great escape.
Jermain Defoe scored an injury-time penalty to earn Sunderland a potentially priceless point at Stoke.
The Potters looked on course for victory after Marko Arnautovic gave them the lead five minutes into the second half but Defoe made it 1-1 having won the spot-kick himself.
Arsenal celebrated in unison as Danny Welbeck’s strike earned a 1-0 win which leavesNorwich’s position ever more precarious.
The well-publicised protests in the 12th and 78th minute – to signal 12 years since Arsenal’s last Premier League title – were a bit like the Gunners’ season. Lots of expectation, poor execution.
And Welbeck gave Arsene Wenger reason for cheer and optimism of an 18th successive season in the Champions League with the decisive goal.
The Gunners’ clash at Manchester City on May 8 will be crucial in determining their finishing position, while Norwich play at home to Manchester United the previous day desperate for points in their bid to avoid the drop.
West Ham sent out a European place warning as they powered into fifth with an impressive 3-0 win at West Bromwich.
Mark Noble’s double and Cheikhou Kouyate’s strike edged the Hammers above Manchester United on goal difference.
United will retake fifth spot if they avoid defeat at home to leaders Leicester on Sunday but the Hammers kept up the pressure and they have lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions.
They face United in their final game at Upton Park on May 10 in what is set to become a winner-takes-all clash.
Left-back Leighton Baines’s first goal since November 2014 secured Everton’s first home league victory since early February but it was not enough to prevent growing opposition to Roberto Martinez’s continued reign as manager.
A plane flying the banner ‘Roberto must go’ was followed by a handful of fans in the Gwladys Street End holding up ‘Martinez Out’ signs and chanting ‘Get out of our club’ at the end of the 2-1 win over Bournemouth.
Everton have won only five home league wins in the last 12 months.
Watford’s Troy Deeney grabbed two late goals to condemn Aston Villa to a club-record 11th straight defeat. Deeney, a boyhood Birmingham fan, stuck the knife into the team he loves to score against more than any other as Watford ran out 3-2 winners.
Relegated Villa were leading with five seconds of normal time remaining thanks to goals from Ciaran Clark and Jordan Ayew, either side of Almen Abdi’s free-kick.
But the beleaguered midlanders, who had Aly Cissokho sent off with 15 minutes left, could not hold out as Deeney’s double piled on the agony.