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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Premier League final day: Manchester United 3rd, Chelsea 4th

Two matches, which had a bearing on each other, decided Champions League qualification

Written by Shashank Nair | Updated: July 27, 2020 1:57:03 pm
Premier League final, Manchester United vs Leicester City , Manchester United beat Leicester City, UEFA Champions League, Chelsea, Champions League qualification Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on Sunday night. (AP)

Think of the greatest Premier League final matchday and Martin Tyler screaming Sergio Aguero’s name in 2011-12 comes to mind. The Argentine scored and won the Premier League for Manchester City with probably the last kick of the season.

There was no such once-in-a-lifetime thriller as the longest Premier League season concluded on Sunday. The end of Liverpool’s 30-year title wait had slightly diminished the excitement even as Manchester United beat Leicester City to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League and Chelsea joined them in the continent’s elite club competition. However, the absence of supporters in the stands did take something away from the spectacle of the final day of the Premier League.

Blues draw first blood (45+1 minutes)

Chelsea 1-0 Wolves

Leicester City 0-0 Manchester United

Nerves were the theme of the first half for Chelsea. The Blues’ defence looked the part, but just when the half at Stamford Bridge was coming to an end, came Mason Mount.

One of the finds of the season for Frank Lampard, Mount came up with a pearler of a freekick right on the edge of the Wolves box one minute into injury time to edge Chelsea ahead.

Meanwhile, Paul Pogba was pulling the strings of a Manchester United midfield, supplying two lovely lobs to Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. Fernandes would find the net but the goal would be chalked off for offside, while Rashford sold his defender a dummy but failed to put United in front. 1-0 ahead at Stamford Bridge and 0-0 at King Power Stadium.

Giroud hunts Wolves down (45+4 minutes)

Chelsea 2-0 Wolves

Leicester City 0-0 Manchester United

Wolves, having resigned themselves to going in at the break a goal down, forgot to play till the whistle. It was Mount again, this time turning provider and delivering a through ball to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman took a touch that seemed to have taken him away from goal but somehow managed to slam the ball home despite the Wolves defence having the chance to clear it. Four minutes of magic and Chelsea’s pockets were looking heavier by £50 million.

Read | European finals to domestic frailty in 13 months: How London clubs faltered in the 2019/20 season

On the other side, Manchester United were enjoying their best spell of the game but couldn’t find the net. As things stood, Chelsea and United were going through but it was the Blues who had some semblance of a guarantee with a 2-0 lead as things at Leicester remained 0-0.

Fernandes saves United yet again (71st minute)

Chelsea 2-0 Wolves

Leicester City 0-1 Manchester United

A hallmark of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United is the high line of press at the top. And it yielded dividends yet again with Leicester losing the ball in their own half. With Anthony Martial through on goal, it seemed like the Frenchman would finish the move. The Leicester centre-backs, calm throughout the evening, lunged for the ball, missed and took down Martial. The only decision for VAR to make was whether it was Johnny Evans or Wes Morgan who got a chunk of Martial’s leg.

Bruno Fernandes, who had looked fatigued throughout the game, stepped up to take the £50 million penalty — Champions League spot is worth that amount and scored.

Meanwhile, Chelsea were cruising with a two-goal advantage and even the introduction of Wolves winger Adama Traore did nothing to change the status quo at Stamford Bridge.

Lingard wraps UCL spot up

Chelsea 2-0 Wolves

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United

A day that should have showcased the anxiety of different sets of supporters across 90 minutes was mirrored in the Red Devils’ last minutes on the pitch. Holding onto dear life with a one-goal advantage, United put everything on the line. Victor Lindelof, Pogba, Brandon Williams – you name a Manchester United player and he had a yellow card – either for time-wasting or for a tackle that potentially prevented a goal.

Leicester had their fair share of chances to get back into the game. But it was all over when their goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel failed to clear the ball. United substitute Jesse Lingard allowed the red side of Manchester a sigh of relief as they made it to the Champions League after securing the third spot in the Premier League table with 66 points.

On the other side, Chelsea had a calmer 45 minutes and finished their season with a 2-0 win and the same points tally as United. But an inferior goal differential saw them take fourth spot, rather than the third.

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