City secure Champions League spot


The point was effectively all City needed in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s last match to ensure they will finish in the top four and therefore be back alongside Europe’s elite after reaching the semi-finals this season.

It looked likely to be a straightforward afternoon’s work for the visitors after Kelechi Iheanacho slotted home in the fifth minute, following up after Kristoffer Nordfeldt had saved Sergio Aguero’s shot.

But they squandered chances before Swansea equalised just before halftime when Andre Ayew’s free kick took a big defelection off Fernando’s head to leave Joe Hart stranded.

Menwhile, Olivier Giroud scored a hat trick as Arsenal overwhelmed relegated Aston Villa 4-0 to pip their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur to second place in the Premier League table.

French striker Giroud put Arsenal ahead after five minutes with a neat header from Nacho Monreal’s cross and the home team dominated possession.

News of Newcastle’s third goal against Spurs caused a huge cheer at the Emirates Stadium, and Giroud added Arsenal’s second goal 12 minutes from time before completing his hat trick with a fine left-footed finish.

Mikel Arteta added the fourth in stoppage time.

Tottenham, the closest challengers to champions Leicester City over the last few weeks, lost 5-1 at Newcastle United to hand Arsenal the chance to overhaul them by a single point.

Newcastle’s swashbuckling performance, with two goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and one from Aleksandar Mitrovic, sent off in the 67th minute for a bad foul on Kyle Walker, may have gone some way to persuading Rafa Benitez to stay on as their manager in The Championship.

Erik Lamela pulled one back for Spurs on the hour when they were 2-0 down, but Newcastle recovered their two-goal lead with a Wijnaldum penalty for a Jan Vertonghen foul on the busy Moussa Sissoko, a thorn in the visiting defence.

Spurs, who had needed just a point to finish second and above Arsenal for the first time since 1995, were left shell-shocked as substitute Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat added further goals in the last five minutes.

Southampton qualified for the Europa League with a 4-1 Premier League rout of Crystal Palace, who had one eye on next weekend’s FA Cup final at Wembley.

Sadio Mane gave Saints a first-half lead following a mistake by veteran keeper Julian Speroni, one of five changes to the Palace side that beat Stoke City last weekend, and Graziano Pelle added the second just past the hour.

Palace got back into the game quickly when Jason Puncheon scored with a blistering shot three minutes later, but a 75th-minute Ryan Bertrand penalty and a late strike from Steve Davis secured the victory.

Southampton are assured of at least a spot in the Europa League’s qualifying round, but will have to wait for Manchester United to play Bournemouth in Sunday’s abandoned match to know if they can keep fifth place, which gives direct qualification to the group phase.

United’s game was abandoned after a “suspect package” had been found in one of the stands at Old Trafford. The match has not yet been rescheduled.

Leicester City’s Premier League winners were given a guard of honour by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then ended their glory season with a late equaliser from Danny Drinkwater in a 1-1 draw with the outgoing champions.

The home team, their fans and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauded Leicester on to the field and there was a particularly fond reception for their former manager Claudio Ranieri, who was given a special presentation before the game.

Chelsea had looked the superior side and Cesc Fabregas seemed set to spoil Leicester’s final party when he scored from the penalty spot in the 66th minute.

Yet with nine minutes left, England midfielder Drinkwater hammered a 30-year shot that left Leicester’s fans able to celebrate winning the league by 10 points, as they chanted: “That’s why we’re champions.” – Reuters

Original source: City secure Champions League spot