It was West Ham’s first home defeat in the league since August — a run of 15 games — and left a Europa League berth as their only realistic target for the end of the season.
West Ham slipped out of the qualifying places to seventh following Southampton’s 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and Liverpool are now just a point behind them after winning 2-0 at home to Watford.
Seventh place could yield a Europa League spot at the season’s end, but only if Manchester City finish in the top four and United beat Palace in the FA Cup final and finish in the top five.
“I keep saying the gap between us and the top four is bigger than the gap between us and Southampton and Liverpool below,” West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said, prior to Southampton’s win at White Hart Lane.
“That’s the gap that worries me and that’s the gap I’m still concentrating on. But we have a game on Tuesday and we are still in a brilliant position.
“We want to finish high. With two games to go we are talking about Europe. It’s in our hands. It’s there for us.”
Win, lose or draw, Tuesday’s game is sure to be an occasion soaked with nostalgia as West Ham bid farewell to the 35,016-seat Boleyn Ground, which has been the club’s home since 1904.
Exciting times lie ahead with an imminent move to the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, up the road in Stratford, but for fans, local residents, staff and players, leaving the club’s ancestral home will be an almighty wrench.
“We’re itching to get back out there and put things right, of course we are,” said captain Mark Noble, whose West Ham career began in July 2003.
“It’s the last game ever at this place and it’s going to be special.”
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