Chelsea squeezes into Champions League despite defeat at Villa
Chelsea qualified for the Champions League despite losing 2-1 at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday as they squeezed Leicester City out of a top-four spot by one point.
Chelsea, who had Ben Chilwell on the scoresheet in reply to goals by Bertrand Traore and an Anwar El Ghazi penalty, had to thank London rivals Spurs for beating Leicester 4-2 away.
Thomas Tuchel’s side finished in fourth place on 67 points, with the Foxes in fifth on 66 after 38 games.
Champions Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, who rode Sadio Mane’s double to beat Crystal Palace at home, are the top three in the table. Leicester and West Ham will be in the Europa League while seventh-placed Spurs will feature in the inaugural Europa Conference League.
“We’re in the Champions League next season so we have to be happy,” Chilwell said. “We managed to secure top four — not how we would have wanted today (Sunday).
“It’s not down to us, it’s down to Spurs, but we are through to the top four and that’s the main thing.”
Chelsea meet City in the Champions League final in Portugal next weekend but wanted to secure their spot in Europe’s elite club competition beforehand.
Chelsea will be concerned for first choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who had to be substituted at half-time after falling heavily into the post.
They will also hope that reliable France midfielder N’Golo Kante, left out on Sunday because of a hamstring injury, will be fit.
For Leicester it’s a horrible case of deja vu as their Champions League dream was shattered for the second straight year after they twice squandered the lead to lose 4-2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
Jamie Vardy converted two penalties to give Leicester 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the crunch clash and, with Chelsea losing 2-1 at Villa, that would have been enough for Leicester to claim a Champions League spot.
But a 76th-minute own goal by keeper Kasper Schmeichel gifted Spurs an equaliser and Gareth Bale, possibly in his last game for Spurs on loan from Real Madrid, rubbed salt into Leicester’s wounds with two well-taken late strikes.
England striker Harry Kane, who could have also been playing his last game for the London club amid transfer speculation, struck Tottenham’s first equaliser to take his league tally to 23 this season and win the Golden Boot award.
Sergio Aguero said goodbye to Manchester City in style as his double off the bench in his final match for the club helped them celebrate the title with a 5-0 thrashing of Everton at the Etihad.
Aguero started on the bench as Pep Guardiola named a surprisingly strong starting team, but the Argentine could not be held back, helping condemn Everton to a 10th-placed finish.
The already-crowned champions did not take their foot off the gas with little to play for, with Kevin de Bruyne hammering the hosts into an 11th-minute lead, before Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0 three minutes later.
Everton’s opportunity to get back into the match came in the 37th minute after Ruben Dias conceded a penalty for a foul on Richarlison, but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s spot kick was saved by City goalkeeper Ederson.
After the break, the goals kept coming as Phil Foden finished well to make it 3-0 in the 53rd minute before Aguero took centre stage.
His first goal came after a twisting and turning run in the 71st minute, before a bullet header completed the rout.
Sadio Mane struck twice as Liverpool secured Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield.
A fifth straight win completed an impressive end to what had been a disappointing and injury-plagued Premier League campaign for last season’s champions as they finished with 69 points, two clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and three ahead of Leicester City.
“If you had told me five weeks ago that we would finish third, I would think it is not possible,” said coach Juergen Klopp.