Premier League – How ‘spellbinding’ and record-breaking day at the bottom unfolded
When you are fighting relegation in the Premier League things can become desperate – and usually a bit chaotic.
Things never seem to go to plan when the pressure is on and the unexpected happened again on a manic Monday that saw 21 goals in three games light up a topsy-turvy relegation battle.
By the end of the final match, former Arsenal and England striker Alan Smith told Sky Sports: “It was a magnificent spectacle. It turned into everything you hoped it would be. Tension, goals, thrills, spills, absolutely spell-binding to watch.”
Up first were Leicester, who travelled to Craven Cottage needing victory over Fulham to be certain they would not slip into the drop zone, but they quickly found themselves 3-0 down by half-time.
It extended their club record of 20 consecutive Premier League matches without a clean sheet and it was the first time in 12 years Fulham could enjoy a three-goal lead at the break.
Surely that was game over? Perhaps not. Fulham went 5-1 up, but it was soon 5-2 and then 5-3. Eventually the whistle went in London.
Craven Cottage had witnessed eight goals in a Premier League match for the first time and the result meant four teams sat within a point of each other at 17:00 BST.
Step up Everton.
Mark, “a delighted Everton fan” was already feeling smug when he messaged BBC Sport saying: “No-one wants to stay up. Leicester are doing their best to get relegated. Not as good as Everton.”
Second bottom in the table, Sean Dyche’s side faced a Brighton side chasing European qualification. So when the scoreline read 3-0 in their favour after 35 minutes, those watching on at the Amex were stunned.
“I’m struggling to believe this,” former Wales defender Danny Gabbidon told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Ex-Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis added on BT Sport: “That was bonkers. It was a dream start for Everton fans.”
It was Everton’s fastest three-goal lead in a Premier League match since 2018 and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure had netted as many goals in the first 29 minutes (two) as he had in his previous 1,176.
And yet Everton were not done. They added a fourth in the second half before Brighton eventually scored. The last word was had by Dwight McNeil to make it 5-1 in the 96th minute for the Toffees.
Having scored five goals, Everton had netted 16% of their total league goals this season (32) in that one match.
Suddenly, Everton were out of the relegation zone and Leicester had dropped into it.
There was still one more game to come at the City Ground between the league’s bottom two clubs – Nottingham Forest and Southampton.
Aly messaged BBC Sport saying: “The Forest-Southampton game has a lot to live up to after these games so far…”
To which Forest fan Pete Bancroft replied: “I’ll take the drabbest 1-0 win you’ve ever seen.”
“What is the record for number of goals on a three-game match day?” Muhammad from London asked. “With Forest and Southampton’s defences as sturdy as tissue paper, surely it could be broken whatever it is!”
With 14 goals already scored in the earlier matches, we found out two more would equal the record on a three-game day in the Premier League – last achieved on 19 August 2018 and this year on 29 April.
G from Scotland then predicted a “0-0 score bore” – but how wrong they were.
The challenge was accepted by both clubs at the City Ground.
Forest scored three by half-time for the first time since 1995, while Southampton got one themselves.
Three more in the second half took the day’s goal tally to 21, smashing the previous Premier League high of 16 from three games, as Forest won 4-3.
They moved above Everton into 16th spot and, importantly, three points clear of the drop zone with three games left.
A rollercoaster day and one everyone was looking forward to watching back on Match of the Day until we broke the news that there was not one, given it was a bank holiday Monday.
“What a day! Get Gary out of bed, we need a special Match of the Day to see all these again,” said Dan from London.
Chris Murphy added: “21 goals from three games, can’t we get a last-minute MOTD cobbled together tonight Gary Lineker?”
It was just the third time this century at least three Premier League matches saw six or more goals being scored on the same day. It was memorable and very enjoyable.