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Exciting end to the fight for top 4: Liverpool through to Champions League

Game week 38 marked the end of an exciting 2020-2021 season, with a mind blowing fight for Champions League slots. The battle for 3rd and 4th places went on to the very end, for some bearing fruit while others had losses to count. We take you through an analysis of what happened.

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Against all odds, Liverpool edged passed Chelsea, West Ham and Leicester City to steal a third placed finish on the log. The Reds have had an impressive run in their last 10 games, making off with 26 of the 30 points. Their entrance into the top 4 was the most exciting highlight of the final round of the fight for a Champions League qualification.

The Reds have finished in top 4 in all five seasons under Jurgen Klopp. The spell is the longest they have done so in 10 straight campaigns from 1981-82 to 1990-91 seasons.

A Sadio Mane goal put Liverpool in the lead by half time, a poachers’ effort from a poorly dealt with corner by Crystal Palace. 74 minutes into the game, Sadio Mane got another chance to double the lead outside the box. He drilled a square cross off Salah into the bottom corner to put The Reds 2 goals up.

Liverpool finished the campaign with 69 points, a cool 30 points shy of their impressive 99 point previous league finish. The Reds have had a campaign to forget, only managing a meager 20 wins in 38 games. The lost 9 games and drew 9, putting them 17 points behind League winners Manchester City. Liverpool had won the league title a season earlier with 18 points above Manchester City.   

Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Aston Villa almost sank Chelsea’s hard earned Champions League rights with a 2-1 league win on their final meet. Chelsea had last lost their final league game in the 2018-19 season, with a 3 goal defeat at the hands of Newcastle.

Reuters.com: Bertrand Traore puts the ball in the net against the Blues.

Bertrand Traore put Villa in the lead in the 43rd minute with an impressive strike off the crossbar off Matt Target’s low cross. The former Chelsea man looped the ball over Mendy’s dive on second calling after wasting the first shot.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was called in as a replacement for Eduardo Mendy who had run into the post as he tried to save Traore’s attempt. He too could not keep Villa out of his net, Anwar El Ghazi sending him diving the wrong way off a spot kick in the 52nd minute.

Aston Villa’s clean sheet was soiled by Ben Chilwell 70 minutes into the game to renew lost hope for The Blues. Cesar Azpilicueta then received matching orders after reacting to a Grealish foul by shoving a hand in the man’s face. Chelsea were left down to 10 men in the 89th minute.

Villa however were not to be denied, making off with all 3 points and fin9ishing 11th in the campaign.

It was now up to Leicester City to dictate Chelsea’s fate in the campaign.

Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspurs

With just a point behind Chelsea, Leicester City were in perfect control of their own destiny. While Chelsea was wasting away their chance to cement a 4th place finish, The Foxes were in position to edge past them after 45 minutes of the game.

The contest had ended level by half time, Harry Kane cancelling out an 18th minute Vardy goal off the spot. Vardy got another spot kick to put The Foxes ahead in the 52nd minute, which he converted with finesse.

At the moment it looked like Leicester had it under control, the game theirs to loose. Kasper Schmeichel leveled the game with an own goal in the 76th minute to renew Spurs’ hope at a European finish.

Gareth Bale set a heartbreaker when he smashed a Harry Kane pass in the box off the bench. VAR checked the goal for a possible handball but the check proved that Leicester’s luck had run out. The substitute was not done, netting his second of the game in the 6th minute of added time to send The Foxes packing.

The defeat means Leicester City must settle for Europa league a second time in a row. The Foxes have put themselves in a similar situation, losing last time out on the last day to Manchester United by 2 goals.

 They finished the campaign with 66 points, a point away from 4th place Chelsea. Their defeat allowed the undeserving Blues retain their fourth place, having lost their chance to cement a solid top 4 finish.        

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Mugambe Richard Ssenkubuge

Sports Journalist/ Writer/ Concept designer/PR Expert/ Graphics designer/ Radio host/ Farmer

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