Chelsea secure Champions League spot despite Villa defeat

Chelsea secure Champions League spot despite Villa defeat

Chelsea qualified for next season’s Champions League
on Sunday despite a 1-2 defeat at Aston Villa as
Leicester’s loss against Tottenham saved the Blues’ top four
place in a thrilling end to the Premier league season.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were 14 minutes away from missing out
on a top-four finish when they trailed at Villa Park while
Livepool and Leicester were both winning.
Bertrand Traore put Villa ahead late in the first half before the
former Chelsea winger won a penalty that was converted by
Anwar El Ghazi.
Ben Chilwell got one back for Chelsea, but at that stage the
Blues were still heading out of the top four

An own goal from Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel was
followed by two late Gareth Bale strikes, condemning the
Foxes to a 4-2 loss as Chelsea received an unexpected favour
from bitter London rivals Tottenham.
That Harry Kane, linked with a close-season move to Chelsea
after declaring his desire to quit Tottenham, was also on the
scoresheet at the King Power Stadium was an added layer of
irony.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off in the final
minute after clashing with Jack Grealish.
But the Blues finished one point above fifth-placed Leicester,
illustrating the slender margins at play in a pulsating
conclusion to the top four race.
It was a huge escape for Chelsea as they enjoyed a significant
measure of revenge for their FA Cup final defeat against the
Foxes last weekend.
They can now concentrate on Saturday’s Champions League
final against Manchester City without the extra pressure of
knowing they have to win in Porto to qualify for next season’s
tournament.
But Tuchel has plenty of work to do to get Chelsea in shape for
their first Champions League showpiece since 2012 after they
were beaten for the third time in their last four games in all
competitions.
Adding to Tuchel’s problems, Edouard Mendy may be a doubt
for the final after Chelsea’s keeper was unable to play the
second half, having collided with the woodwork in a failed
attempt to keep out Traore’s goal.
Once again, Timo Werner was unable to provide a spark up
front and the Chelsea striker should have done better than
head across goal from Azpilicueta’s cut-back in the early
stages.
Mason Mount deservedly won Chelsea’s player of the year
award after a superb season.
But the England midfielder wasted a golden opportunity to
open the scoring when he blazed over from Azpilicueta’s
cross.
Chelsea were made to pay for their profligacy when Villa took
the lead with a clever corner routine in the 43rd minute.
Traore made a perfectly-timed run to meet Matt Targett’s low
delivery and, with Chelsea’s defenders looking elsewhere, the
unmarked winger hit a scuffed shot that looped into the top
corner via the crossbar.
Tuchel had said he would not check to see how Liverpool and
Leicester were faring until half-time.

By the time Tuchel returned to the dressing room at the
break, Liverpool were winning 1-0, while Leicester were level at
1-1, keeping Chelsea in the top four at that point.
But news quickly filtered through that Jamie Vardy had put
Leicester ahead early in the second half, leaving Chelsea in
peril.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jorginho conceded a 52nd
minute penalty when he caught Traore on the foot.
VAR reviewed the incident but there was no reprieve for shell-
shocked Chelsea as El Ghazi stroked home the spot-kick.
Chilwell gave Chelsea a glimmer of hope when the left-back
met Christian Pulisic’s cross with a close-range finish in the
70th minute.
That set the stage for a remarkable finale as the focus turned
to the King Power, where Tottenham’s late goal spree sparked
jubilant cheers from the Chelsea bench and a relieved smile
from Tuchel.

Source: Football – Fairplay News

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