United's Casemiro: Champions League again
Photo: PETER POWELL / EPA
The English football record champion Manchester United has secured its participation in the Champions League by beating Chelsea FC 4-1 (2-0) in the catch-up game. Liverpool FC, who are six points behind United and four points behind Newcastle United with one matchday to go, will finish the Premier League in fifth place and play in the Europa League next season despite the fightback in recent weeks.
It is the first time in six years that coach Jurgen Klopp has missed the Champions League with Liverpool. Star striker Mohamed Salah was dismayed: "I'm devastated. There is no excuse for it," the Egyptian wrote on Twitter. "We had everything we needed to make it to the Champions League this year and we failed."
Liverpool had started the season as runners-up and had title ambitions. However, the Reds had nothing to do with the championship fight, the gap to league leader Manchester City is 23 points. The fact that last year's finalist in the premier class has now also missed out on the most important international competition is an enormous surprise. For Klopp, it is only the second time since he took over in 2016 that he has finished worse than fourth in the league.
Man United, who needed a point from their last two league games to secure qualification for the Champions League, took the sixth-minute lead against Chelsea when Casemiro headed in a Christian Eriksen free-kick. Earlier, Mykhaylo Mudryk should have given Chelsea the lead, but the summer signing failed to get past goalkeeper David de Gea.
Martial doubled United's lead in first-half stoppage time (45+6) and Bruno Fernandes added to his tally from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute after being brought down by Wesley Fofana.
Things got even worse for Fofana and Chelsea when substitute Marcus Rashford took advantage of an errant pass and scored the fourth goal five minutes later (78th). Chelsea's substitute João Félix scored the winner in the 89th minute.
A final is still waiting for United, Liverpool "devastated"
United moved up to third place, but can still be overtaken by Newcastle United. City rivals Manchester City have already been confirmed as champions. After a disastrous season, Chelsea only finds itself in twelfth place despite high investments.
Manchester United's season could be even better: On June 3, they will face champions Manchester City in the final of the FA Cup at Wembley.