It's job done for Roy Hodgson.
The former England coach was enticed out of retirement at the age of 75 in late March, tasked with keeping Crystal Palace in the Premier League as the team plunged toward the relegation zone on the back of a 13-match winless run.
Hodgson, one of the most well-respected and well-traveled managers in soccer, clearly still has the magic touch.
A 4-3 win over West Ham on Saturday was Palace's fourth victory in six matches since the arrival of Hodgson. With it, the team moved onto 40 points — the number long associated with being the safety mark in England’s top-flight.
Surely, Palace is safe, given it is 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Hodgson, it seems, was an inspired appointment.
“The sword has been removed from my head, it’s been removed from the players’ heads,” Hodgson said.
“We will keep the sword where it is as far as we’re concerned, because we like to win games."
Unlike in the painful final days of Hodgson's predecessor, Patrick Vieira, Palace is scoring goals again, with this swashbuckling performance coming soon after a 5-1 win at Leeds.
The goals conceded against West Ham were from corners, signifying that this could have been a much more cleaner win for Palace.
Palace recovered from going behind to Tomas Soucek’s ninth-minute opener by scoring three goals in a 15-minute span by the 30th, through Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp.
Michail Antonio reduced the deficit, Eberechi Eze stroked home a penalty to restore the two-goal cushion for Palace, and Nayef Aguerd bundled in West Ham’s third goal to set up a tense finish at Selhurst Park.
A 6-0 thrashing of Wolverhampton put the smiles back on the faces of Brighton's players.
It has been a tough few days for the south-coast club, which was defeated on penalties by Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinals last weekend and lost at Nottingham Forest in the league in a weary display three days later.
Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi rang the changes and they worked, with the team going 4-0 ahead after 39 minutes and adding two more after the break. Deniz Undav, Danny Welbeck and Pascal Gross all scored twice.
Brighton stayed in eighth place but moved two points behind Tottenham in fifth, and has two games in hand. Finishing fifth or sixth would secure a Europa League qualification place, with Brighton seeking to play in Europe for the first time in its 122-year history.
“It is an exciting time," De Zerbi said. "We want to achieve our targets. We are fighting. Results are not everything in football, the style and DNA is important. But if we deserve to achieve our target, we have to achieve it.”
Nottingham Forest conceded in the fourth minute of stoppage time to lose at Brentford 2-1 and miss a chance to make a big leap away from the relegation zone.
Leading 1-0 until the 82nd minute, Forest let in an equalizer in the 82nd minute to Ivan Toney — his 20th league goal — before substitute Josh Dasilva grabbed a winner that was only confirmed after a long VAR check for offside.
Forest remained one point above the relegation zone and has four games left, including what appears to be a must-win match at home against last-placed Southampton next.
“We have to stick together with the players more than ever now after a result like that," Forest manager Steve Cooper said.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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