West Ham inching their way to safety

LONDON • Cheikhou Kouyate boosted West Ham United's survival bid as the Senegal midfielder fired his side to a crucial 1-0 win over fellow Premier League strugglers Swansea City yesterday.

His second-half strike at the London Stadium lifted Slaven Bilic's team eight points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

After losing their last five matches, West Ham's first win in eight games was perfectly timed and should go a long way to ensuring the East Londoners avoid the drop.

For Swansea, a fourth defeat in their last five games leaves them facing a nerve-shredding final few weeks of the season.

Paul Clement's third-bottom side are without a win in their last five matches and sit two points from safety, with six games left to beat the drop.

Backed by West Ham's owners earlier this week, Bilic had called on his team to stick together and they appeared to have heeded the message in a lively start.

The hosts tested Lukasz Fabianski numerous times in a bright opening before Kouyate struck with a thumping low drive just before the break.

Swansea, who looked short of energy and inspiration, improved marginally after half-time but were only able to create a few half-chances as West Ham held on to register a much-needed victory.

West Ham's first win since early February saw them climb to 14th with 36 points.

Swansea still sit in the relegation zone, in 18th place on 28 points.

Southampton consolidated their position in the top half of the league after a goal from Jordy Clasie helped the visitors pick up three points at West Bromwich Albion for the first time since 2013.

Dutch midfielder Clasie, who replaced suspended Oriol Romeu in the starting line-up at The Hawthorns, scored his first league goal for Southampton with a spectacular strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 25th minute.

The hosts had a chance to equalise in the closing moments of the first half but Salomon Rondon's headed effort was clawed out by Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Southampton, now ninth in the league, maintained their slender advantage with some resolute defending in the second half, despite substitutes James McClean and Hal Robson-Kanu doing their best to inspire an Albion comeback.

Middlesbrough squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to boost their Premier League survival hopes after being held to a 0-0 draw by travel-sick Burnley.

Boro's failure to take their chances extended their run of games without victory to 14 and kept them second from bottom in the table, six points from safety.

Steve Agnew's men retain a game in hand on the teams immediately above them, but with matches against the big guns like Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool still to come, time is quickly running out.

Boro have now gone 12 league games without victory at the start of a calendar year for the first time in their history.

The draw gave Sean Dyche's Burnley only their fourth point away from home of the season and left them eight points above the relegation zone.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'West Ham inching their way to safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe