Villa’s top four bid rocked at Brighton, Chelsea rout West Ham

Aston Villa’s bid to finish in the Premier League’s top four was rocked by a 1-0 defeat at Brighton, while Chelsea thrashed West Ham 5-0 to keep alive their hopes of European qualification on Sunday.

A Villa win combined with a Tottenham loss at Liverpool in Sunday’s late game would have sealed a Champions League place for Unai Emery’s side.

But Villa were unable to fulfil their part of that equation as Joao Pedro’s 87th minute goal condemned them to a second painful defeat in four days.

Ending Brighton’s six-match winless run, Pedro headed in the rebound after Robin Olsen saved his penalty, which had been awarded for Ezri Konsa’s foul on Simon Adingra.

Surprisingly beaten 4-2 by Olympiakos in the Europa Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday, Villa were well below their best once again.

Villa remain in fourth place, seven points clear of fifth placed Tottenham, who have two games in hand.

Emery’s men host Liverpool and travel to Crystal Palace in their last two games as they fight to return to the Champions League for the first time since 1982-83.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea crushed London rivals West Ham to move above Manchester United into seventh place.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino is fighting to convince the club’s co-owner Todd Boehly to give him a second season in charge after his troubled debut campaign.

Pochettino admits it is “not his decision” if he stays, but securing a place in Europe could be enough to avoid the sack.

Cole Palmer put Chelsea ahead in the 15th minute with his 21st league goal of the season, the forward firing home after West Ham failed to clear.

Conor Gallagher doubled Chelsea’s advantage after 30 minutes with a blistering volley after West Ham’s Kurt Zouma deflected the ball towards the midfielder.

Noni Madueke bagged Chelsea’s third six minutes later as the winger turned in Thiago Silva’s header from close-range.

Nicolas Jackson piled on the misery for woeful West Ham in the 48th minute with a tap-in from Madueke’s cross.

The Senegal striker was on target again with 10 minutes left.

The lopsided nature of defeat did little to quell speculation over the future of West Ham boss David Moyes, who has come under fire from fans for his perceived negative game-plans.

Ninth placed West Ham have reportedly held talks with former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui and could opt to move on from Moyes, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

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