LONDON: Leicester City’s chances of Premier League survival suffered a blow as they collapsed to a 5-3 at Fulham on Monday.
Willian and Tom Cairney both scored twice for the Cottagers as they closed in on a top-half finish on their return to the top flight.
But the Foxes, who won the Premier League in stunning fashion in 2016 and lifted the FA Cup two years ago, are staring relegation in the face.
Leicester are outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Only Leeds United and Bournemouth have conceded more goals than Leicester in the Premier League and defensive deficiencies were again their undoing at Craven Cottage.
Willian’s free-kick from out wide was allowed to sail beyond everyone to open the scoring just 10 minutes in.
Fulham were still without top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, serving an eight-game ban for pushing a referee.
But his deputy Carlos Vinicius was given acres of space to run in behind the Leicester defence and fire home the second from Harry Wilson’s pass.
Two cool finishes from Cairney either side of half-time then made it 4-0 before the visitors’ showed what they are capable of going forward.
Harvey Barnes fired home from James Maddison’s pass and Leicester could have been back in the game but Jamie Vardy’s penalty was saved by Bernd Leno.
Fulham went up the other end to make it 5-1 as Willian smashed home another strike from outside the box.
Maddison had seen a penalty saved in a 2-2 draw with Everton last week, but found the net when he took back responsibility from Vardy for Leicester’s second penalty of the afternoon.
Barnes then pounced to make it 5-3 after a calamitous defensive mix-up between Shane Duffy and Leno.
But it was too little, too late for Leicester who face an anxious wait to see where they will sit in the table before they are in action again in a week’s time against Liverpool.
DE GEA ERROR GIFTS WEST HAM VICTORY
In Sunday’s late match, a howler by Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea gifted West Ham three vital points in their battle against relegation as the hosts secured a 1-0 win at the London Stadium.
United are fourth on 63 points after 34 games, one ahead of Liverpool and with a game in hand over the Merseysiders, while West Ham are 15th on 37 points, seven above the drop zone.
Visiting forwards Marcus Rashford and Antony hit the post in the first half but De Gea’s error will capture the headlines as it reopened the chase for Champions League places.
Said Benrahma’s bouncing shot from distance looked to be no real threat but although Spaniard De Gea dived and got a hand to it he failed to keep the ball out as West Ham took the lead.
The goal knocked the wind out of United’s sails and they were lucky not to concede a penalty when Victor Lindelof moved his arm into the path of a ball from Benrahma, with VAR deciding not to recommend a spot kick as the first half came to a close.
With United striker Wout Weghorst ineffective, Anthony Martial added a much-needed focal point for their attack when he came off the bench in the 57th minute.
Rashford forced a quick reaction stop from Lukasz Fabianski and Martial also had an effort saved as United increased the pressure, with Martial also flashing a stoppage-time header across the face of the goal.
Despite 10 minutes of stoppage time, United could not score and they slumped to a second league defeat in a row after losing at Brighton.