Chelsea secured a place in next season’s Champions League despite losing to Aston Villa, Thomas Tuchel’s side sealing a top-four spot ahead of Leicester City.
The Blues had started the final day of the Premier League season in third spot, knowing victory over their mid-table opponents would guarantee a place in the group stages of Europe’s prestigious knockout club competition.
Tuchel’s side carved out the better chances but fell behind when Bertrand Traore’s attempt went in off the underside of the crossbar following Matt Targett’s corner.
It went from bad to worse for Chelsea when Edouard Mendy was injured, making him a doubt for next Saturday’s Champions League final with Manchester City.
Substitute keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was beaten by Anwar El Ghazi’s second-half penalty after former Chelsea player Traore was fouled by Jorginho, before Ben Chilwell pulled one back for the visitors from close range.
Chelsea finished the game with 10 men after captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s straight red card for a foul on Jack Grealish, but Leicester’s home defeat by Tottenham means Tuchel’s side finish the season in fourth on 67 points – one more than fifth-placed Leicester.
From ninth to Champions League spot
On a dramatic final day, Tuchel and his players experienced a full range of emotions before it was finally confirmed they had secured a Champions League group place.
It is an impressive achievement considering the Blues were ninth when Tuchel took charge in January, and of course his side could yet end the season by being crowned champions of Europe.
But they will have to play better – and show more discipline – than they did against Villa if they are to win in Porto next weekend after losing for only the third time in the league under the German.
Traore was unmarked when he fired Villa ahead, while Jorginho’s foul on the Villa midfielder gifted the hosts a second goal from the spot.
Azpilicueta can have few complaints about his red card but most worrying for Tuchel will be the fitness of Mendy.
The Senegal keeper has settled well since arriving from Rennes in September and proved a calming influence on the defenders in front of him. Tuchel will hope his injury does not hamper his plans for next weekend.
While Aston Villa’s players head off for a break, Chelsea now turn their thoughts to Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto (20:00 BST).
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
- 26MartínezBooked at 81mins
- 7McGinnBooked at 65mins
- 19NakambaBooked at 74mins
- 15TraoréSubstituted forChukwuemekaat 73′minutes
- 21El GhaziSubstituted forRamseyat 79′minutes
- 6Douglas Luiz
- 27El Mohamady
- 16MendySubstituted forArrizabalagaat 45′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 6Thiago Silva
- 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 89mins
- 5JorginhoBooked at 45minsSubstituted forZiyechat 60′minutes
- 17KovacicBooked at 49minsSubstituted forHavertzat 66′minutes
- 11WernerBooked at 45mins
- Stuart Attwell
Match ends, Aston Villa 2, Chelsea 1.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, Chelsea 1.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Thiago Silva (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).
Attempt blocked. Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) is shown the red card for violent conduct.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Grealish (Aston Villa).
Attempt saved. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Hakim Ziyech.
Attempt missed. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Thiago Silva.
Foul by Christian Pulisic (Chelsea).
Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Matt Targett.
Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ezri Konsa Ngoyo.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Marvelous Nakamba.
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa).
Substitution, Aston Villa. Jacob Ramsey replaces Anwar El Ghazi.