5 The Daily Telegraph Monday 27 July 2020 *** Twists and turns in the battle to finish in top four 4.00pm 4.25pm 4.33pm 4.39pm Fernandes goal ruled out Iheanacho goes close All to play for Giroud heads over It’s been quiet at Chelsea and Olivier Giroud heads a half-chance over as Chelsea look for the vital breakthrough against Wolves Pts GD Pts GD Pts GD Pts GD After a nervous start, United think Bruno Fernandes has given them the lead but it is rightly ruled out for offside Leicester break quickly and have a three-ontwo but Kelechi Iheanacho goes himself and the chance is wasted At the start of play Leicester are the team missing out, although it is extremely tight. Only a win will do for Brendan Rodgers’ men 3 Man Utd 63 28 Man Utd 63 28 Man Utd 63 28 Man Utd 63 28 4 Chelsea 63 13 Chelsea 63 13 Chelsea 63 13 Chelsea 63 13 5 Leicester 62 28 Leicester 62 28 Leicester 62 28 Leicester 62 28 On the touchline, while Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves manager, exuded calm, Lampard appeared beset with tension. But then, at the end of the first half, came security. And it arrived in a rush. First Mason Mount swung in a superb free-kick from the edge of the Wolves area that left Rio Patricio stranded. Then, moments later, he turned provider to send Olivier Giroud away and round the Wolves goalkeeper. The Frenchman initially looked as if he had carried the ball too far, before he pirouetted past Conor Coady and tapped home. On the touchline, Lampard roared something which sounded as much relief as delight. The goals wholly calmed his side. As the second half progressed, their passes became crisper, quicker, more accurate. They managed to control the introduction of the electric-heeled Adama Traore, closed down Wolves’s attacks, defended their goal with real resolve. Because Wolves had their chances; a fine move through midfield almost sent Jimenez away, but a fine Antonio Rudiger intervention prevented nerves jangling. But the day was Chelsea’s. With his new signing Timo Werner watching in the stand, for Lampard this represented huge achievement in his first season in charge. Champions League football is secured, now the FA Cup awaits. “It’s a moment I’d have loved to share with the fans today,” he said. “The achievement of top four is for them. I look forward to having them back.” And still, Lampard could do Nuno a favour. If Chelsea beat Arsenal in next week’s final, Wolves qualify for next season’s Europa League. Which, before Covid struck, was probably due to start last week. Battling Chelsea leave Lampard proud at Stamford Bridge By Jim White wing almost dipped under the bar, were the sum total of his contribution. Which in itself was something that will have pleased the manager. It is always gratifying when your goalkeeper is close to redundant. This was a game that began not so much cagey as ferocious. Lampard had mirrored his opponents’ favoured style by playing with a three-man defence, with his fullbacks pushed into midfield. But it was not a formation that immediately delivered attacking threat. From the off, tackles were hurtling in, players were going down, Kurt Zouma and Raul Jimenez seemed determined to fill the gap in our lives at this time of year where the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling programme should be. But little was made in the way of chances. we need to be competing for titles. But tonight we should be proud of what we achieved.” Before kick-off Lampard had demonstrated that he was not afraid of making decisions at critical junctures. He signalled his resolve by dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga and putting Willy Caballero in his goal. The Argentine has been at Stamford Bridge since 2017 without ever looking anything more than a benchwarmer. Here he was required to ensure Chelsea suffered no calamity at the last as they sought to ensure progress to the financial promised land. No pressure there then. “The Kepa decision was a choice on recent form,” Lampard explained. “It felt like Willy coming in with confidence on the back of his Chelsea Wolves Mount 45+1, Giroud 45+4 It was not pretty, it was not sophisticated, it was not slick. But, thanks to two goals scored at the end of the first half, Chelsea ensured they would be playing in the Champions League next season. And it required a display of significant character to overcome resilient opponents who had European ambitions of their own. “I’m very pleased,” said Frank Lampard, the Chelsea manager. “I might want to put a small brackets round what we did by saying it’s performance in the FA Cup against Manchester United was what we needed for the game.” Not, it turned out, that Caballero was called upon to provide anything in the way of heroics. A couple of routine saves and a smart parry over the bar when Pedro Neto’s swerving cross from the left Mourinho eyes Europa League glory after ‘difficult’ season But Tottenham look a long way short of breaking back into the elite of English or European football and Mourinho will not have the budget to make a big difference. “Will we be signing 10 players? No. Will we sign a player for £100million? No. Tottenham Hotspur limped over the line into the Europa League, a drab draw with Crystal Palace earning them the point that took them above Wolves into sixth place, an improvement on the 14th Jose Mourinho inherited last November, but still short of fans’ expectations. In June 2019, Spurs faced Liverpool in the Champions League final, having finished fourth, 26 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side. Now the gap has widened, with 40 points separating the teams and Spurs out of Europe’s elite. Mourinho admitted his disappointment, but said he would go all out to win the Europa League, as he has done with Porto and Manchester United. “Anybody that plays Champions League doesn’t want to go back to the Europa League, but it was the only thing possible after such a difChelsea, the ball from Giovani Lo Celso, Kane took one touch to move it past his marker and then shot quickly, drilling it low inside the near post. Mourinho is happy to cede possession as long as opponents do not create clear chances, so his defence cannot afford to switch off as they did when Schlupp reacted first to a second ball and swivelled to send a volley high into the net. Mourinho sent on Steven Bergwijn, Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli, but in the closing minutes Davinson Sanchez came on to add defensive muscle. Realising Wolves were losing, he knew a point would suffice. “I had to be ultra pragmatic. I prefer not to take any risks.” It worked, but will such pragmatism win over Spurs supporters who have got used to glory, glory nights in the Champions League? ficult season,” he said. “But arriving in 14th and handling things is not bad at all. I am happy to play in the Europa League and it’s a question of motivating ourselves and the fans to support us and try to do something beautiful.” There was little beauty in this game, however. Palace had lost seven games in a row and should have been seen off comfortably by a Spurs side with four wins in their previous five games. Even though Harry Kane put Tottenham ahead in the 13th minute, Spurs barely troubled keeper Vicente Guaita thereafter, and Jeffrey Schlupp’s equaliser in the 54th minute was the least Roy Hodgson’s men deserved. “It was important to break this unfortunate run of results, and I thought we shaded it against a top-quality side,” Hodgson said. Consecutive top-six finishes for Spurs in the top flight after only two in the previous 17 seasons 11 at Selhurst Park By Gerry Cox But what we can do is improve what we have.” Kane is crucial to any success, and there is no pressure to sell Spurs’ prize asset. His crisp strike was his 14th in the 19 games he has played under Mourinho. Receiving Crystal Palace Tottenham Schlupp 54 Kane 13
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