Chelsea secure top four despite defeat at Aston Villa as Tottenham fight back to beat Leicester City

A 2-1 loss at Villa Park proves not too damaging thanks to Spurs' 4-2 win at the King Power Stadium

Ben Chilwell and Jacob Ramsey, left, battle for the ball during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park. AP
Ben Chilwell and Jacob Ramsey, left, battle for the ball during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park. AP

Chelsea owe rivals Tottenham Hotspur a debt of gratitude after finishing fourth in the Premier League and qualifying for next season's Champions League despite a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Blues started the day in third, one point ahead of both fourth-placed Liverpool and Leicester City in fifth. It meant a win at Villa Park would guarantee Chelsea a coveted top-four finish and a place in the European Cup regardless of results elsewhere.

Ultimately, though, Chelsea did have to rely on other results. After going down 2-0 – following Bertrand Traore's scuffed finish and Anwar El Ghazi's penalty either side of halftime – the Blues faced an almighty task to both claw back a win on the day and hold on to a top four berth.

Their cause appeared increasingly hopeless with Leicester twice leading Tottenham following a pair of Jamie Vardy penalties either side of Harry Kane's equaliser.

However, Spurs levelled through an own goal from Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel before Gareth Bale grabbed a late brace for a comeback 4-2 win at the King Power Stadium.

It meant Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to Villa – Ben Chilwell pulled one back with a well-struck volley – did not prove too damaging, even as their chances of rescuing at least a point all but ended when captain Cesar Azpilicueta saw red for a late challenge on Jack Grealish.

The Blues slipped one place to fourth following Liverpool's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, but did enough to finish ahead of Leicester by the slimmest of margins – level on points but with a superior goal difference of just two – to take a measure of revenge against the team that beat them in the FA Cup final.

Chelsea would have had one more chance to qualify for next season's Champions League when they face Manchester City in this year's final in Porto on Saturday, but they will no doubt be relieved not to have the additional pressure against Pep Guardiola's formidable league champions.

"A loss never feels good but tomorrow I will take a lot of satisfaction," Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. "We reached the objective and congratulations to everyone. We are still a young team, players fighting for their first trophies and now we arrive in Porto with full confidence."

Updated: May 23, 2021 10:48 PM

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