Manchester United back in Champions League after thrashing Chelsea 4-1
Manchester United secured a top-four spot in the English Premier League after thrashing Chelsea 4-1 on Thursday at Old Trafford. The victory guarantees a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League for the three-time European champions. United’s goals came from Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes (penalty) and Marcus Rashford. The home team needed a point from their final two fixtures to secure their place in Europe’s elite club competition, and they did that in some style.
United manager Erik ten Hag expressed delight at his team’s achievement and highlighted how tough the Premier League can be. “It’s important; this club belongs in the Champions League. But it’s not easy in the Premier League. It’s a tough competition, so it’s a massive performance when you get this done,” said Ten Hag in an interview with Sky Sports.
Manchester United is third on the Premier League table with 72 points. They are six points clear of fifth-place Liverpool, meaning United will finish no lower than fourth. The Red Devils were out of the Champions League last season, and their return to Europe’s top club competition will undoubtedly please the Old Trafford faithful.
Newcastle United secured a Champions League place earlier this week when they drew 0-0 with Leicester City, and Thursday’s win means United will join them. Chelsea, who have struggled all season, are 12th on the table with 43 points. They are guaranteed their worst finish in the Premier League since 1995-96.
Manchester United is aiming to complete a domestic double when they take on rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final on June 3. United won the Carabao Cup in February, and a win in the FA Cup will see them end the season with two trophies.
United host 10th-placed Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday in their final Premier League fixture of the season. The team has a fantastic record at home, going unbeaten in their last 17 Premier League games at the Theatre of Dreams.
Despite Thursday’s victory, there were injury concerns for United. Antony and Luke Shaw were both forced off in the first half, and their availability for the FA Cup final on June 3 could be in doubt. United are already without Lisandro Martinez and Marcel Sabitzer for that game.
Joao Felix pulled one back for Chelsea in the 89th minute, but the game was already out of reach for the visitors. Interim Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was in charge of his final Premier League game for the Blues, and it was a forgettable one. The Blues will finish the season in the bottom half of the table for the first time in 25 years.
Bruno Fernandes summed up United’s season so far as “decent, not perfect because we want more. But for what we did this season, I think it’s great. Won one trophy, we get to the top four — that was our goal after we saw we couldn’t go for the Premier League [title]. Now it’s about finish the league well and go to the FA Cup and win.”
Manchester United will hope to go one better in the Premier League next season and challenge for the title. But for now, their fans can look forward to seeing their team back in the Champions League, where they will face Europe’s finest clubs.