How the race for Champions League football played out on final day

Leicester spare Chelsea’s blushes: How the race for Champions League football played out on final day of Premier League season

Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Chelsea’s final Premier League clash of the season pitted them against Aston Villa.

The game had little meaning for Villa, who began the day 11th with no chance of securing any form of European football next term.

Chelsea, on the other hand, were well aware of what a huge tie this was at Villa Park.

Thomas Tuchel’s side would begin the day sat 3rd in the Premier League table in 67 points.

However, their spot in the top-four and, in turn, next season’s Champions League, was by no means secure.

This was because both Liverpool and Leicester could overtake them on Sunday.

Liverpool began the day 4th, just one point off Chelsea and with a better goal difference.

Leicester, meanwhile, were 6th and also one point off the Blues, but with a worse goal difference.

So, if Chelsea lost on Sunday and Leicester won with Liverpool either drawing or winning, then Chelsea would have dropped out of the top-four.

Chelsea & Liverpool secure Champions League spots

Chelsea, as is often the case under Tuchel, began Sunday’s game by dominating the possession, with Villa limited to the odd counter-attack.

And with 20 minutes gone, Chelsea had managed to carve out a number of chances, with Dean Smith’s side only saved by some top keeping from Emiliano Martinez.

Chelsea’s best chance of the game would fall to Mason Mount after 23 minutes, but the midfielder’s effort was directed well away from the goal.

Mateo Kovacic then nearly cost the Londoners a goal when he was dispossessed in midfield, allowing John McGinn to burst forward and get a shot off. The Scotsman’s effort went wide though.

Villa would then take the lead after 43 minutes thanks to a clever set-piece, which led to Bertrand Traore being left free in the Chelsea box to dink an effort out of the reach of Edouard Mendy.

When the teams went in at half-time, Chelsea were still sat 4th due to Leicester drawing 1-1 with Tottenham.

However, Tuchel and co. will have been well aware that their spot in the top-four was hanging by a knife-edge.

And with around 50 minutes gone in Sunday’s game, Leicester once again took the lead against Spurs, meaning Chelsea had dropped out of the top-four.

Chelsea’s evening then took yet another turn for the worse when Jorginho brought down Traore in the Blues’ box.

Jack Grealish then stepped up to convert the ensuing spot-kick and leaving Chelsea to rely on Spurs coming back vs Leicester to secure their place in the top-four.

Timo Werner did look to have pulled one back just before the hour-mark, but Cesar Azpilicueta was offside in the build-up.

Ben Chilwell would eventually get one back for Chelsea 69 minutes in. But with Liverpool and Leicester still leading in their games, Tuchel’s men needed to win on Sunday or hope Leicester lost.

And, when all was said and done, the latter of those two scenarios would play out. Chelsea would be handed a lifeline when Kasper Schmeichel scored an own goal vs Spurs, meaning Leicester City dropped down to 5th.

Gareth Bale then netted a brace to earn Spurs a 4-2 win. So, despite Chelsea failing to beat Villa on Sunday, they were still able to secure a top-four finish thanks to Leicester losing.

Elsewhere, Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to secure 3rd place, with Chelsea 4th and Leicester once again confined to another season in the Europa League.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 37 46 83
2 Manchester United FC 37 28 71
3 Chelsea FC 37 23 67
4 Liverpool FC 37 24 66
5 Leicester City FC 37 20 66
6 West Ham United FC 37 12 62
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 37 21 59
8 Everton FC 37 4 59
9 Arsenal FC 37 14 58
10 Leeds United 37 6 56
11 Aston Villa FC 37 8 52
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 37 -15 45
13 Crystal Palace FC 37 -23 44
14 Southampton FC 37 -18 43
15 Newcastle United FC 37 -18 42
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 37 -4 41
17 Burnley FC 37 -21 39
18 Fulham FC 37 -24 28
19 West Bromwich Albion 37 -39 26
20 Sheffield United FC 37 -44 20
Player Team Goals
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 22
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 22
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 17
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 17
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 16
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 16
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 14
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 13
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 13
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 12
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 12
Wood, Chris Burnley FC 12
Iheanacho, Kelechi Leicester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 11
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 11
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 11
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 10
Antonio, Michail West Ham United FC 10
Cavani, Edinson Manchester United FC 10

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