Chelsea seals CL spot despite 2-1 loss to Aston Villa in EPL




Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Leeds United - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - December 5, 2020 Chelsea's Kurt Zouma celebrates scoring their second goal with Olivier Giroud, Thiago Silva, Reece James and teammates Pool via REUTERS/Mike Hewitt

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Chelsea clinched a Champions League qualification spot in nervy fashion following a 2-1 loss at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

The Blues looked like they would need to win the Champions League by beating Manchester City in the final on Saturday to get back in the competition next season after goals by Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi — from the penalty spot — put Villa 2-0 ahead.

Ben Chilwell pulled a goal back for Chelsea, which ended up relying on fifth-place Leicester losing 4-2 at home to Tottenham to stay in the top four by just a point over the Foxes.

Chelsea also beat Leicester to a top-four finish on the final day last season.

Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off late on for Chelsea for lashing out at Jack Grealish, while manager Thomas Tuchel also faces an anxious wait to discover if goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will be fit for the Champions League final in Porto after he was forced off at halftime after colliding with the post as Traore scored.

Villa, already guaranteed 11th place, wrapped up a season of progress with a gritty victory.