Everton and Nottingham Forest moved out of the relegation zone on a record-breaking day of Premier League action to round off Matchweek 35.
There were 21 goals scored, the highest of any day in the competition's history featuring three matches or fewer, with six different players netting braces.
Everton stun Brighton
Doucoure scored a rapid opener after only 34 seconds, the third-fastest goal in the Premier League this season and Everton’s earliest in a match since 2017.
The midfielder’s second goal came on 29 minutes after being set up by McNeil, who also created the third goal when his 35th-minute cross hit goalkeeper Steele and went in. It was Brighton’s 14th own goal in the Premier League, the most of any club since their debut campaign in 2017/18.
Brighton made four half-time changes but one of them, Solly March, was in part responsible for Everton’s fourth goal, as his loose pass was intercepted by Alex Iwobi, who played in McNeil to round Steele and score. To make matters worse, March pulled up while tracking back and hobbled off injured.
The Seagulls had 77 per cent possession and finally made it count on 79 minutes when Kaoru Mitoma’s shot rebounded off a post and hit Alexis Mac Allister and bounced in, and they might have set up a grandstand finish had Jordan Pickford not made three great saves to deny Mac Allister and Evan Ferguson.
Instead McNeil smashed in a brilliant fifth in stoppage time to boost Everton's chances of staying up and dent Brighton's European hopes. They remain seventh with 55 points, two behind Tottenham Hotspur but with two matches in hand.
Forest win battle of bottom two
Nott'm Forest followed Everton's lead with a 4-3 win over bottom-club Southampton to rise from 19th to 16th and leave Saints needing to win their next match in order to avoid relegation.
Taiwo Awoniyi scored twice in three first-half minutes, converting Brennan Johnson's cross and volleying in a brilliant second for his first goals since Forest beat Saints in January's reverse fixture.
Southampton responded through Carlos Alcaraz on 25 minutes but Morgan Gibbs-White restored the home side's two-goal cushion just before half-time with a penalty awarded for a foul on Johnson by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
But at the other end Gibbs-White cleverly flicked to Danilo to score for a third straight match, and although Ward-Prowse struck a stoppage-time penalty, it was too late for a dramatic comeback.
The result takes Forest on to 33 points, one more than Everton and three clear of the drop zone.
Saints have 24 points, eight from safety, meaning they will go down unless they beat Fulham on Saturday.
Leicester drop into bottom three
Leicester were behind after only 10 minutes through Willian’s bending free-kick. It was the 17th time in their last 18 matches they had conceded the opening goal of a match.
Fulham doubled their lead eight minutes later, Harry Wilson's pass being gathered by Carlos Vinicius to finish low past Daniel Iversen, and it was 3-0 before half-time thanks to Tom Cairney’s first Premier League goal since October 2020.
After waiting more than two-and-a-half years for a PL goal, Cairney’s next came just six minutes into the second half, finishing into the bottom corner after a surging run from Kenny Tete to make it 4-0.
Leicester pulled one back just before the hour mark, James Maddison teeing up Harvey Barnes to smash in off the underside of the bar, and they had a big chance to apply further pressure, but Bernd Leno denied Jamie Vardy from the penalty spot after the goalkeeper had fouled the striker.
Vardy was made to pay for his miss, as just four minutes later Willian cut in from the left and curled in a wonderful strike for his second of the match.
Leicester were given another chance from the penalty spot on 80 minutes, though, when Palhinha brought down Maddison, who succeeded where Vardy failed, sending Leno the wrong way.
An eventful match did not end there, though, as Barnes completed his own brace, capitalising on poor Fulham defending to net the eighth and final goal of an end-to-end affair.
Fulham’s 14th win of the season, their most in a Premier League campaign, solidifies their top-half status. They have 48 points, six more than west-London rivals Chelsea who are a place behind them but have a match in hand. Leicester's loss, coupled with the day's other results, leaves them two points from safety.
Remaining matches of relegation rivals
|36||CHE (A)||MCI (H)||LIV (H)||NEW (H)||FUL (H)|
|37||ARS (H)||WOL (A)||NEW (A)||WHU (A)||BHA (A)|
|38||CRY (A)||BOU (H)||WHU (H)||TOT (H)||LIV (H)|