Everton gift Saints victory

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iol spt apr26 Everton-Saints Reuters/Eddie Keogh Everton suffered a huge blow in their quest for Champions League football after two own-goals saw them lose to Southampton. Photo by:Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Everton suffered a huge blow in their quest for Champions League football after a pair of own-goals saw them lose 2-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

The loss meant Everton remained a point behind Arsenal, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot on offer to Premier League clubs, ahead of the Gunners' match at home to Newcastle on Monday.

Everton, whose 2-0 victory over Manchester United last week led to their former manager David Moyes's sacking by the English champions, were behind as early as the first minute courtesy of a bizarre own-goal.

Antolin Alacaraz got in front of the player he was marking to somehow head a cross from Southampton's Rickie Lambert past Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard.

And the visitors fell further behind on the south coast shortly after the half-hour mark when Seamus Coleman, perhaps distracted by John Stones's leaping in front of him, diverted Nathaniel Clyne's cross beyond Howard.

Victory saw the Saints remain eighth in the table.

Saturday's other English top-flight fixtures will see Ryan Giggs oversee his first match as interim player-manager of Manchester United when the seventh-placed side face Norwich, just above the relegation zone, at Old Trafford.

Elsewhere, second-bottom Fulham are at home to Hull, Stoke play Tottenham, Swansea face Aston Villa and West Brom, still not certain of top-flight survival, welcome West Ham to The Hawthorns.

The race for the Premier League title will intensify on Sunday when leaders Liverpool face second-placed Chelsea, currently five points off top spot, at Anfield.

Third-placed Manchester City, six points off the summit but with four league games remaining compared to the top two's three apiece, are away to Crystal Palace.

At the other end of the table there is a classic relegation 'six-pointer' when bottom of the table Sunderland are at home to drop zone rivals Cardiff.– AFP

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