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Liverpool, Chelsea claim last UCL spots, as Aguero bows out with brace

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Liverpool and Chelsea claimed the last two remaining UEFA Champions League spots in Sunday’s English Premier League (EPL) finale on Sunday.

Also, Sergio Aguero struck twice in his farewell match for champions Manchester City.

Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Anfield from Sadio Mane’s brace to place third behind Manchester City and Manchester United while Chelsea could afford a 1-2 loss at Aston Villa.

The Blues finished fourth because FA Cup winners Leicester City blew a 2-1 lead in the final 14 minutes in a 4-2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.

Leicester City consequently had to settle for fifth as last season, owing to an own goal from goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and a Gareth Bale brace.

Tottenham’s win gave them seventh place for a place in the new European Conference League, at the expense of London rivals Arsenal.

The Gunners 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion was then to no avail.

Manchester City were meanwhile already assured of the title and wrapped up the campaign with a 5-0 demolition.

Their top scorer Aguero came on in the second half to score the final two goals before Pep Guardiola’s side lifted the trophy.

Manchester City can also win the UEFA Champions League when they face Chelsea in the Porto final on May 29.

Manchester United meanwhile ended the domestic season 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers for an unbeaten run away from home.

They will hope for similar success in Wednesday’s Europa League final against Villarreal in Gdansk, Poland.

Liverpool were rarely troubled in front of 10,000 fans from Mane’s double in the 36th and 74th minutes in what was Roy Hodgson’s last match as manager of Crystal Palace.

The Reds ended the season with eight wins and two draws after a major slump saw the 2020 champions fall as low as seventh earlier in the year.

“The last few games were unbelievable, five wins in a row. We are third, in a season like this one, I am more than satisfied,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp told said.

That moved all the top-four drama to Villa Park and the King Power.

Chelsea failed to clinch their UEFA Champions League spot on their own five days after beating Leicester.

Bertrand Traore shortly before half-time and Anwar El Ghazi’s penalty kick gave mid-table Aston Villa a 2-0 lead.

Chelsea had a goal from Timo Werner disallowed for narrow offside as Thomas Tuchel’s team only managed to pull one back from Ben Chilwell in the 70th minute.

The visitors then had Cesar Azpilicueta sent off shortly before the final whistle for catching Jack Grealish in the face.

“It was our responsibility to lose today, we had enough chances. The performance was by far good enough to win the game.

“We did not score, conceded two cheap goals and it was a defeat in the end. We are lucky to escape today,” Tuchel said.

The Blues could celebrate in the end because Leicester City were unable to capitalise against Spurs with lots at stake for both sides.

The FA Cup winners led twice from Jamie Vardy penalty kicks, with league top goalscorer Harry Kane getting a temporary equaliser in what could have been his last Spurs game.

But Schmeichel then fisted the ball into his own net in the 77th minute off a corner-kick.

Substitute Bale gave Spurs victory and a place in Europe in the 87th minute and stoppage time, while Leicester City go into the Europa League along with sixth-placed West Ham.

At the Etihad, Manchester City all-time top goalscorer Aguero came on in the 65th minute and tapped and headed home for a final club record tally of 260.

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden grabbed the earlier goals against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton before captain Fernandinho lifted the trophy for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Olawale Alabi

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