LONDON: Dusan Tadic scored twice to hand Southampton a Premier League survival lifeline with a nervy 2-1 win over Bournemouth at St Mary’s.
Victories for Crystal Palace and rock-bottom West Brom also blew the relegation battle wide open, while Stoke grabbed a potentially crucial point against Liverpool at Anfield.
Mark Hughes’ Saints started the day four points from safety and in desperate need of three points against their south-coast rivals to realistically keep alive hopes of preserving their top-flight status.
Tadic blasted his side into the lead on 25 minutes on the end of a quick break by Mario Lamina before Josh King equalised for the Cherries in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
But Tadic struck again in the 54th minute when he sent a cool finish past Asmir Begovic, before his side clung on through a torrid final few minutes.
Needing a win to maintain their stay of execution, West Brom continued their fine run under Darren Moore with by taking all three points at Newcastle.
Matt Phillips scored the only goal of the game in the 29th minute and Jay Rodriguez could have extended the Baggies’ lead but the home side hit the woodwork twice through Kenedy and Dwight Gayle.
Crystal Palace all but sealed their own safety with an emphatic 5-0 win over Leicester which piled more pressure on under-fire Foxes boss Claude Puel.
Wilfried Zaha set up the rout with his eighth goal of the season in the 17th minute before turning provider to set up James McArthur for the Eagles’ second just before the break.
Marc Albrighton was sent off in the 56th minute for bringing down Zaha and Roy Hodgson’s men took full advantage with three goals in the final 10 minutes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Patrick van Aanholt and a late Christian Benteke penalty.
Stoke also gave themselves a shout at survival although they were left disappointed not to take more from a goalless draw against Liverpool at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah looked out of sorts after his midweek heroics against Roma as Jurgen Klopp’s men continued to make hard work of ensuring another top-four finish, with Stoke defender Erik Pieters outstanding.
The home side had a shout for handball by Pieters waved away late on, while Stoke could have won it at the death when Ryan Shawcross fired inches wide.
Chelsea‘s chase for a top-four Premier League spot gathered pace as Cesc Fabregas scored a landmark goal to deepen Swansea‘s relegation concerns.
Fabregas struck as early as the fourth minute on a wet night in south Wales – his 50th Premier League goal and 15th for Chelsea after scoring 35 for former club Arsenal.
Swansea had their opportunities, particularly in the second half, to claim some rewards, but the 1-0 defeat means it is now six games without a win for Carlos Carvalhal’s side.
Huddersfield find themselves back in the relegation dogfight after a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Everton, for whom Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye scored a goal in each half.
And Sean Dyche’s Burnley must wait a little longer to confirm a place in next season’s Europa League after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Brighton.
** Sunderland, relegated to the third division one year after falling out of the Premier League, have parted company with manager Chris Coleman after only five months.