London (AFP) – Jesse Lingard fired West Ham into fourth place in the Premier League as the revitalised midfielder inspired a 3-2 win against Leicester, while Manchester United prepared for their revenge mission against Tottenham on Sunday.
Lingard struck twice in the first half at the London Stadium to maintain his remarkable form since arriving on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window.
The 28-year-old’s career had stagnated at United, where he rarely featured under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But he has been reborn with West Ham, scoring eight times in nine appearances and earning a recall to the England team.
Jarrod Bowen scored West Ham’s third after half-time as David Moyes’ side climbed above Chelsea and Liverpool to reclaim fourth after being knocked down to sixth by their rivals’ victories earlier this weekend.
West Ham are one point ahead of fifth placed Chelsea and two in front of Liverpool with seven games left for all three teams.
The Hammers haven’t finished in the top four since 1985-86 when they came third.
Qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a top four place would be an incredible achievement for Moyes, whose work this season has rehabilitated his reputation after his failures at Manchester United and Sunderland.
Lingard volleyed home from the edge of the area in the 29th minute and he doubled the lead with a tap-in from Bowen’s pass in the 44th minute.
Bowen bagged West Ham’s third in the 48th minute with a simple finish from Tomas Soucek’s pass.
Kelechi Iheanacho got one back for third placed Leicester with a long-range drive in the 70th minute.
Iheanacho struck again from close-range in stoppage-time, but having look certain to earn a top four place, Leicester are now only one point above West Ham.
Adding to their problems, James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez were left out by Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers after breaching coronavirus protocols.
“It is extremely disappointing to learn of a breach that had the potential to undermine the efforts of club staff to protect the environments in which our teams train and play,” a Leicester spokesman said.
“Appropriate measures have been taken to prevent our team bubbles being compromised.”
– Newcastle survival boost –
Newcastle took a big step towards securing their survival with a vital 2-1 win against Burnley.
Steve Bruce’s side came from behind at Turf Moor to end their seven-game winless run.
Matej Vydra put Burnley ahead from close-range in the 18th minute, but Jacob Murphy equalised in the 57th minute.
Allan Saint-Maximin had set up Murphy’s goal after coming off the bench and the French winger grabbed the priceless winner with a superb solo effort in the 64th minute.
Fourth bottom Newcastle are now six points clear of the relegation zone and hold a game in hand on third bottom Fulham.
Burnley are seven points above the bottom three, but aren’t certain of survival after just one win from their last eight matches.
Later, Manchester United will try to make amends for their embarrassing 6-1 home defeat against Tottenham in October.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was believed to be fighting to save his job after that dismal result, while Tottenham looked to be emerging as potential title challengers.
But United have gradually turned their season around and arrive in north London in second place.
In stark contrast, Tottenham have endured a troubled campaign, slumping down to seventh place and crashing out of the Europa League.
Tottenham haven’t completed a league double over United since the 1989-90 season.
Arsenal travel to bottom of the table Sheffield United in Sunday’s last match.