Aston Villa slips up in race for Champions League after 1-0 loss at Brighton

LIVERPOOL, England — A bad week for Aston Villa got worse on Sunday after a surprise 1-0 loss at Brighton in the race for the top four in the Premier League.

Unai Emery’s team lost 4-2 at home to Olympiakos in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semifinal on Thursday. And on a day when Villa could have secured its place in next season’s Champions League, it suffered another setback.

Joao Pedro’s 87th-minute goal at the Amex Stadium gave hope to fifth-place Tottenham in its pursuit of Villa in fourth. Tottenham played Liverpool at Anfield later Sunday with the chance to move within four points of Villa with a game still in hand.

Villa would have been certain of a top-four finish if it had won at Brighton and Spurs had gone on to lose against Liverpool. But after Pedro saw his late penalty saved by Robin Olsen, he was alert enough to head home from the rebound.


Chelsea’s troubled season could still end on something of a high after Mauricio Pochettino’s team boosted its chances of European soccer next season with a 5-0 rout of West Ham on Sunday.

The win at Stamford Bridge moved Chelsea up to seventh in the standings and two points behind sixth-place Newcastle. Only the top six teams in the Premier League will be guaranteed a place in Europe next season.

“We need to keep this momentum and belief going,” Pochettino said.

While Chelsea’s exorbitant spending under U.S. owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital was supposed to put the 2021 Champions League winner back in contention for the biggest prizes, qualification for Europe would represent progress after finishing in the bottom half of the table last year and another season of struggle this term.

After a morale-boosting 2-0 win against Tottenham on Thursday, Chelsea followed it up by thrashing West Ham.

Nicolas Jackson scored twice in the second half after Chelsea had raced to a 3-0 lead by the break through goals from Cole Palmer, Conor Gallagher and Noni Madueke.


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