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LONDON, May 23, (AP): Liverpool and Chelsea secured the final two Champions League qualification spots on a thrilling last day of the Premier League season, with Leicester missing out in the three-way fight for a top-four finish on Sunday. Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa didn’t prove critical because Leicester conceded three late goals to lose 4-2 at home to Tottenham and stay in fifth place. Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 thanks to two goals from Sadio Mane and jumped into third place, two points above fourth-place Chelsea. Leicester, which also missed out on Champions League qualification by losing on the final day of last season, were leading 2-1 after 76 minutes, only for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to punch the ball into his own net. Substitute Gareth Bale scored in the 87th and again in stoppage time as Leicester poured forward in search of a winner. West Ham beat Southampton 3-0 to finish in sixth place to qualify for the Europa League and Tottenham’s win at Leicester ensured the team got into the new Europa Conference League. Harry Kane finished as the league’s top scorer, for the third time, on 23 goals – one ahead of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – after scoring at Leicester. The striker also had more assists than anyone else, with 14.
Arsenal failed to qualify for European competition for the first time in 25 years after finishing in eighth place, a point behind north London rivals Tottenham, despite beating Brighton 2-0. There were also wins for Manchester United, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield United. Sergio Aguero scored twice in a fairytale Premier League farewell as Manchester City completed their titlewinning campaign by thrashing Everton 5-0. City’s record scorer, who is leaving the club following next week’s Champions League final after 10 years at the Etihad Stadium, hit a quickfire double after coming off the bench with 25 minutes remaining. That added to earlier strikes from Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden as City showed no sign of letting up ahead of the final against Chelsea in Porto on Saturday. Everton, which had gone into the game with a chance of qualifying for Europe, were overwhelmed on an emotional occasion that saw City presented with the Premier League trophy and fans return to the stadium.
The Merseysiders, for whom GylfiSigurdsson missed a penalty, slumped to 10th in the standings. For City, it was a celebration. Not only were supporters back after 14 months away but it was their first chance to salute the champions and acknowledge their European exploits. The fans certainly made their presence felt throughout the afternoon. Before the game, big numbers spilled into the streets as City’s team coaches made what is normally a straightforward journey from the nearby training complex to the stadium. Only 10,000 were permitted inside the stadium but the atmosphere they generated inspired the team and few left before the post-match ceremonies, which included the club tributes to Aguero. Everton formed a guard of honor to greet City players as they came onto the field and players from both sides then did likewise for Aguero. Supporters would have to wait to see the Argentinian in action, however. The striker, having been troubled by a muscular injury in recent weeks, was not fit enough to play the full 90 minutes and had asked manager Pep Guardiola if he could start from the bench.