Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1: Thomas Tuchel's ten-man Blues limp into Champions League spots despite shock final day loss

THOMAS TUCHEL can fly to Portugal on Friday safe in the knowledge that the Champions League final is just a shot at silverware.

Despite defeat and a sloppy display at Villa Park, results elsewhere mean Chelsea scraped into the top four, so qualify for the world’s most lucrative tournament next season.

But the methodical German will not deeply unhappy that it was left to somebody else to do the work for him.

Tottenham’s surprise 4-2 win at Leicester merely masks the massive shortcomings of his team yesterday and its failure to step up to the plate when the circumstances demanded it.

Chelsea’s stuttering end to the season is an area of huge concern for a club synonymous with winning at all costs.

The insipid turnout from his old team would not have been lost on Chelsea’s lionised former captain John Terry, sitting in the Villa dugout as assistant to boss Dean Smith.

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And although the main mission is accomplished and Tuchel has achieved the goal of a top four finish, he will be worried for his team against Manchester City this Saturday evening in Porto.

Even though the main objective is reached there is still the requirement for a steady stream of silverware through the door at Stamford Bridge.

And on this evidence Chelsea will get rinsed by Man City and quite possibly embarrassed unless they pull themselves together in the coming days.

The lack of composure shown by his side made Chelsea look ragged by the end of a dismal game from their perspective.


Captain Cesar Azpilicueta losing his cool and getting a straight red card in the dying moments for aiming a slap in the face at Villa skipper Jack Grealish merely summed it up.

Grealish had been dancing around Chelsea’s defenders all afternoon and striker Ollie Watkins was given a comfortable ride in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.

It won’t have done their prospects of making Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad on Tuesday any harm to be made to look so good.

For a team berthed in 11th with no prospect of moving up or down, Villa should have been a pushover but instead were handed three points on a plate.

And while Tuchel is considered the future of this volatile club, it was its chequered past that caught up with them again.

Bertrand Traore played only 16 times for Chelsea but was found to have been illegally tapped up by the club as a kid.

It led ultimately to a one-window transfer ban and yesterday their one-time prospect scored one and was at the heart of the second goal which will have damaged Chelsea confidence.

From a team which barely needed a keeper because the defence was so formidable, they have now conceded in each of the last five games – at the business end of the campaign when every miskick or lapse in concentration seems to count double.

And it was just such a moment when Tuchel’s defence took its eye off the ball that Villa struck the latest blow.

Two minutes before half time, Villa set for a corner and there appeared no immediate danger.

But that was when wily Traore was allowed to dart diagonally across the area from right to left completely unchecked.

He had time and space to latch onto the low centre with a curling left foot shot that crashed off the underside of Mendy’s crossbar and over the line, leaving Chelsea stunned.

Mendy was left totally exposed by the slipshod marking from the men in front of him and could not get near the swerving shot which was not struck at great pace. 

When the number one keeper was replaced at half time by no.2 Kepa it suggested he may have been carrying an injury leaving him immobile.

Chelsea’s players may have been shocked to go behind but it was little surprise to everyone else as several missed chances at the other end meant they were enduring a most uncomfortable afternoon.

Mason Mount, so often the dynamic and creative engine of this team, looked slightly more energetic than of late but he is clearly not on top form.

The normally potent midfielder has chipped in with ten goals this season but just lately the scoring touch has dried up.

Normally this rising star with the club in his blood can be counted on in the key games: Liverpool, Southampton and Fulham away in the Premier League and Porto in the Champions League are just four examples of his potency.

But twice in the first half he had the chance to score and was either well wide of the mark or lacked the power to trouble Emiliano Martinez in the Villa goal.

There was no regrouping at the break either.

A Villa surge at the wobbly Chelsea defence led to Traore being tripped by Jorginho in the box and making the most of his opportunity.

Anwar El Ghazi stepped up and slammed a shot past Kepa and Villa made sure to end a most encouraging season on a high in front of their first home crowd for 462 days.

Chelsea were feeble and failed to act on it when Ben Chilwell pulled a goal back with 20 minutes left.

The old Chelsea would have seized that moment and gone onto win when Terry was in his pomp.

The new Chelsea limped across the finish line and can count themselves lucky that things went their way 40 miles up the road in Leicester.

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