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Chelsea secure Champions League spot

Chelsea qualified for next season’s Champions League on Sunday despite a 2-1 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 Liverpool 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.

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