Premier League race for Europe: Liverpool and Chelsea clinch top four spots

33 Sporting Life

The race for Europe was still in the balance with one Premier League game of the season to play. We round up the action on a to-and-fro final day.

Liverpool | 3rd | 69 points

A win over Crystal Palace was always going to be enough for Liverpool to secure a place in next season’s Champions League, provided Leicester didn’t come up with a four-goal swing against Tottenham. It meant they were huge favourites heading into the final day.

And they didn’t disappoint as they beat the Eagles 2-0 in Roy Hodgson’s final game in charge.

Liverpool’s late surge in form was impressive, but their run to the top four will be best remembered for a dramatic last-minute winner from goalkeeper Alisson against West Brom, without which they would likely be playing Europa League football in 2021/22.


Chelsea | 4th | 67 points

To say Chelsea stumbled over the line into the top four is an understatement.

Defeat to Leicester in the FA Cup final was a bitter blow for Thomas Tuchel’s side, but they did manage to bounce back in the league tie with victory against the Foxes just days later – which proved crucial.

Tuchel’s men lost 2-1 at Aston Villa on the final day, but got away with it thanks to Tottenham doing them a favour.

Leicester | 5th | 66 points

Despite beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final, Leicester’s defeat to the Blues in the league the following Tuesday put a serious dent in their hopes of a top-four finish – a blow they wouldn’t recover from.

They twice led Tottenham in their final game, and Aston Villa even did them a favour by beating Chelsea at Villa Park, but a late capitulation from Brendan Rodgers’ side saw them lose 4-2 and fall out of the Champions League places on the final day for the second successive season.

West Ham | 6th | 65 points

West Ham were in a great position to claim an unlikely fourth-placed finish, but a run of three losses from four games, followed by a 1-1 draw at Brighton, left them scratching around to finish in the top six.

But a 3-1 midweek win over West Brom meant David Moyes’ side held all the cards in the top-six race heading into the final day, with a draw being enough to confirm Europa League spot.

And they duly delivered, thrashing Southampton 3-0 to coast home.


Tottenham | 7th | 62 points

Spurs’ 3-1 defeat at Leeds all-but ended their chances of a top-four finish, and the best they could hope for heading into the final day was a place in next season’s Europa League – something that became a long shot after a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in midweek.

They did finish with a flourish though, winning 4-2 at Leicester to clinch seventh place and qualification for the inaugural Europa Conference League.


Final day timeline: How top four battle played out

4:16pm: Chelsea and Leicester in top four

Leicester moved into the top four at Liverpool’s expense after Jamie Vardy’s penalty gave them the lead over Tottenham.

4:35pm: Liverpool and Leicester in top four:

Sadio Mane fired Liverpool ahead at home to Crystal Palace, lifting them up to third and nudging Chelsea down to fifth.

4:40pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Harry Kane’s equaliser at Leicester means the Foxes are out of the top four, with Chelsea back in.

4:44pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Bertrand Traore’s goal gave Villa the lead against Chelsea, meaning just goal difference kept Thomas Tuchel’s team above Leicester and in the top four.

5:09pm: Liverpool and Leicester in top four

Jamie Vardy’s spot-kick put Leicester back into the top four, with Chelsea dropping out.

5:13pm: Liverpool and Leicester in top four

Anwar El Ghazi’s penalty left Chelsea two goals down and apparently facing an uphill task to get back into the top four.

5:19pm: Liverpool and Leicester in top four

Blues’ hopes of a comeback at Villa Park were not helped when Timo Werner’s goal was ruled out for offside.

5:30pm: Liverpool and Leicester in top four

The Blues are given hope by Ben Chilwell’s goal.

5:33pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Davinson Sanchez nodded Son Heung-min’s corner goalwards and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel appeared to get the final touch as the ball ended up in the net for Tottenham’s equaliser – nudging Brendan Rodgers’ team out of the top four positions.

5:35pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Liverpool’s job looked to have been completed when Mane’s shot deflected in via Gary Cahill to give the hosts a 2-0 lead Anfield.

5:44pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Gareth Bale’s goal gave Spurs a 3-2 lead and ended Leicester’s hopes of Champions League action.

5:52pm: Liverpool and Chelsea in top four

Bale gets his second goal and caps a bad day for Leicester, who have to settle for Europa League action next season.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here