Football: Soccer-England’s Champions League race goes down to the wire


MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – The battle for the final two Champions League qualification spots goes down to the wire on Sunday with Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester City all vying for a place in Europe’s elite competition.

Chelsea are third on 67 points and will book their place with a victory at Aston Villa on Sunday, before they take on Manchester City in the Champions League final.

Liverpool and Leicester City are both a point adrift of Chelsea, with the 2019 Champions League winners having the edge.

An unbeaten run of nine games, including wins in their last four outings, has propelled Juergen Klopp’s side above Leicester on goal difference.

The plus-four goal difference advantage means that if Liverpool win against Crystal Palace on Sunday, Leicester would need to beat Tottenham Hotspur by an unlikely margin to make it into the Champions League for only the second time in their history.

Realistically, the Foxes, who beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final last Saturday, need to win and hope one of their rivals slip up.

“All we can do is get three points and see where it takes us. The maturity in the team and how they’ve fought has allowed us to get into this position,” Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers told reporters following the win over Chelsea.

“For us, it’s about ourselves, we could never control what Liverpool or Chelsea has done. If we arrive in the top four, it will be a monumental effort.”

Rodgers, a former Liverpool manager, will be hoping another ex-Anfield boss can do him a favour.

Roy Hodgson will be in charge of Palace for the last time on Sunday after announcing his departure from the club at the age of 73.

Hodgson was in charge at Anfield during a brief and unsuccessful spell in 2010-11.

Recent form suggests his side are unlikely to be party-poopers however — Palace were beaten 7-0 at home by Liverpool in December and lost 4-0 at Anfield last season.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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