Sports Top Stories

EPL: Chelsea secure top-four finish despite loss at Villa

*Aguero shines as Man City hammer Everton 5-0
*Wins for Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs, Leeds

Chelsea secured a place in next season’s Champions League despite losing to Aston Villa, Thomas Tuchel’s side sealing a top-four spot ahead of Leicester City.
The Blues had started the final day of the Premier League season in third spot, knowing victory over their mid-table opponents would guarantee a place in the group stages of Europe’s prestigious knockout club competition.
Tuchel’s side carved out the better chances but fell behind when Bertrand Traore’s attempt went in off the underside of the crossbar following Matt Targett’s corner, reports the BBC.
It went from bad to worse for Chelsea when Edouard Mendy was injured, making him a doubt for next Saturday’s Champions League final with Manchester City.
Substitute keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was beaten by Anwar El Ghazi’s second-half penalty after former Chelsea player Traore was fouled by Jorginho, before Ben Chilwell pulled one back for the visitors from close range.
Chelsea finished the game with 10 men after captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s straight red card for a foul on Jack Grealish, but Leicester’s home defeat by Tottenham means Tuchel’s side finish the season in fourth on 67 points – one more than fifth-placed Leicester.
Meanwhile, Leicester were denied a place in the Champions League for the second season running with Gareth Bale scoring two late goals to give Tottenham victory on a dramatic final day in the Premier League.
Starting the last round of fixtures in fifth place, the Foxes knew that their best hope of finishing in the top four was a victory, while hoping that Liverpool and Chelsea slipped up in their respective final games.
Chelsea did leave the door open, trailing at Aston Villa, but the Foxes were unable to do their part, falling to defeat at the King Power Stadium despite leading twice to finish a point behind Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
And Nicolas Pepe scored twice in the second half as Arsenal beat Brighton, only to be denied a place in Europe by Tottenham’s fightback against Leicester.
A strong finish to the season moved the Gunners within a point of their north London rivals heading into the final day, and with Arsenal cruising after Pepe’s double, the 10,000 fans returning to Emirates Stadium thought they were set to snatch seventh place from Spurs.
Despite finishing the season with a fifth straight win, Arsenal were condemned to an eighth-placed finish as Tottenham clinched a 4-2 victory at Leicester.
That result ends Arsenal’s record of playing in Europe every season since 1995-96.
At the Etihad, Sergio Aguero marked his final appearance at Etihad Stadium with two goals as the new Premier League champions ended their domestic campaign with a thumping win over Everton.
Aguero, who has won five league titles during a glorious decade with City, was not fit enough to start but, with his side already 3-0 up he quickly made his mark after coming off the bench with 25 minutes to go.
The 32-year-old Argentina striker scored his 259th goal with a clever curling shot with the outside of his foot, then headed home Fernandinho’s cross a few moments later.
Only a smart Jordan Pickford block stopped Aguero from completing his hat-trick, the only blip on a memorable day for Pep Guardiola’s side and their fans.
There were City supporters inside their stadium for the first time this season, and they were able to enjoy a dominant performance from their side from start to finish, topped by Aguero’s farewell goals.
Kevin de Bruyne fired City ahead from the edge of the area after only 11 minutes, then set up Gabriel Jesus to gallop clear and make it 2-0.
And Wolves were unable to give manager Nuno Espirito Santo the winning send-off they craved as they were beaten by Manchester United.
Four-and-a-half thousand Wolves fans were at Molineux to say goodbye to Nuno, two days after the surprise announcement this would be his last game for the club.
But United spoiled the send-off somewhat as Anthony Elanga marked only his second Premier League start for the Red Devils with a goal, powering home a header inside the first 15 minutes.
Wolves responded well to that setback, equalising five minutes before the break when Nelson Semedo scored his first goal for the club by sweeping in from Fabio Silva’s smart square ball.
But United reclaimed the lead on the stroke of half-time. Donny van de Beek was caught on the back of his foot by Romain Saiss and after referee Mike Dean initially decided against awarding a penalty, he reversed his decision after a VAR review.
That left the home fans furious, with loud boos greeting the half-time whistle, and there was an added determination about Wolves’ play in the second half.
But despite plenty of possession they lacked quality in the final third – something that has plagued them all season and has not been helped by the amount of injuries they have had to contend with.
Victory means United, who finish second to equal their highest Premier League finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, have gone a full season without losing an away game for the first time in their history.
RESULTS
Arsenal 2 – 0 Brighton
Aston Villa 2 – 1 Chelsea
Fulham 0 – 2 Newcastle
Leeds 3 – 1 West Brom
Leicester 2 – 4 Tottenham
Liverpool 2 – 0 Crystal Palace
Man City 5 – 0 Everton
Sheff Utd 1 – 0 Burnley
West Ham 3 – 0 Southampton
Wolves 1 – 2 Man Utd

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