Soccer

Swansea, West Brom closer to Premier League survival

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The Canadian Press
4/26/2014 4:25:15 PM
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MANCHESTER, England -- Swansea virtually secured Premier League survival and West Bromwich Albion moved closer to safety on Saturday.

Jonjo Shelvey scored an eye-catching volley in a 4-1 victory for 12th-place Swansea over Aston Villa, which is just four points and two places from the drop zone. Saido Berahino gave West Brom a 1-0 victory over West Ham that took the team five points clear of danger.

But Fulham threw away a two-goal lead at home to Hull to draw 2-2 and remain in the drop zone.

At the top of the standings, Everton's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were hit by a 2-0 loss at Southampton which kept the visitors in fifth place. Tottenham closed the gap on Everton to three points after Danny Rose clinched a 1-0 win at Stoke, meaning that Manchester United could even miss out on Europa League qualification.

After a sleepless night before his managerial debut, Ryan Giggs saw his Manchester United team reawaken Old Trafford with a comfortable victory over Norwich on Saturday to end a tumultuous week that started with David Moyes' dismissal.

United asserted itself over Norwich after a tedious start, with Wayne Rooney scoring twice -- the first from the penalty spot -- and Juan Mata also netting a brace after coming off the bench to complete a 4-0 win in the English Premier League.

"I should retire now, a 100 per cent record," Giggs quipped.

The 40-year-old midfielder, who dropped himself from the match-day squad, is likely to have just three more games as player-manager, with United looking to appoint a more experienced successor to Moyes.

"The reception was great. I've walked out of the tunnel so many times in big games. That's the best feeling I've had, I felt so proud," Giggs said. "Did I sleep last night? No."

It was a day all about restoring pride after Moyes inherited a team that won the league by 11 points under Alex Ferguson last May and took it down to seventh in the standings.

But while United is frustrated to be out of the four Champions League places, Norwich's position is far more precarious -- fighting against relegation. A seventh straight loss left the team just a point and a place above the relegation zone.

Although the revenue streams could be hit, a season out of Europe could help the rebuilding process which it seems Giggs won't be overseeing as manager, however much he impresses during his four-game stint as interim manager.

"We've had a tough week and there's been a lot of negativity towards us as a team," Rooney said. "We were hurt by that and we wanted to put that right. It's important for us to end the season well."

The breakthrough against Norwich came after Steven Whittaker brought down Danny Welbeck, and Welbeck scored from the penalty spot in the 41st.

The striker was on target again inside three minutes of the second half, drifting in from the left unchallenged before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

United was cruising, and the magnitude of the victory was even more convincing after Mata made an immediate impact after coming off the bench on the hour.

The Spain midfielder scored inside three minutes, after meeting a cross from Phil Jones. Mata nodded another over the line in the 73rd after being set up by Antonio Valencia.

"I'm interim manager but I'm also one of their team-mates, so it was tough to leave them out, but you've seen the response of Juan," Giggs said. "That's a true professional, to not moan and not sulk and come on and perform like he did."



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