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Man Utd secure top four and Champions League return

25 May 2023

Erik ten Hag's side win 4-1 against Chelsea to leave Liverpool in next season's UEFA Europa League

Manchester United will be back in the UEFA Champions League next season after they confirmed a top-four finish with a 4-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.

It takes Man Utd ahead of Newcastle United into third place, six points above fifth-placed Liverpool who now know they will be in the UEFA Europa League in 2023/24.

Race for top four

Pos Team Pl GD Pts
3 MUN 38 +15 75
4 NEW 38 +35 71
5 LIV 38 +28 67
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See: Which teams can qualify for UEFA European competitions?

Man Utd needed only a point to confirm a top-four finish but their task was nearly made difficult four minutes in when Mykhailo Mudryk missed a big chance to score, fluffing his lines from Lewis Hall's cross.

Mudryk was one of three changes to an XI that, at 23 years and 238 days, was Chelsea's youngest average starting line-up in a Premier League match.

That missed chance immediately came back to bite Chelsea, who just two minutes later fell behind to Casemiro's header from Christian Eriksen's wide free-kick. It means Casemiro has scored in back-to-back matches, and has found the net in both of his Premier League meetings with Chelsea. 

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Chelsea then wasted two more big chances, Kai Havertz heading wide from an identical position to Mudryk before Conor Gallagher missed the target after being played in by Enzo Fernandez. And again they were made to pay.

In first-half stoppage time, Casemiro played a sublime no-look pass to Jadon Sancho, who squared the ball for Anthony Martial to tap in. Martial has now been directly involved in six goals in his last five starts against Chelsea. 

The sour note of the first half for Man Utd was Antony being taken off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury just nine days before their FA Cup final against Manchester City. Luke Shaw was also taken off at half-time.

See: Ten Hag on Antony and Shaw injuries

The second half continued in end-to-end fashion, with Bruno Fernandes smashing against the woodwork and David De Gea saving from Hall, the 18-year-old left-back who was one of few bright sparks for Chelsea.

Any Man Utd nerves were put aside in the space of five second-half minutes, when Fernandes won and scored a penalty, given away by Wesley Fofana, before substitute Marcus Rashford struck his first goal since 27 April, capitalising on a Chelsea mistake. 

It makes Rashford the first Man Utd player to score 30 goals in a season in all competitions since Robin van Persie in 2012/13, and the first to net 20 at Old Trafford since Wayne Rooney in 2009/10.

Chelsea did get a consolation goal in the 89th minute, ending Man Utd's run of six home matches without conceding when two substitutes combined, Joao Felix collecting Hakim Ziyech's pass and advancing to score.

Chelsea remain in 12th, on 43 points, guaranteed to finish the season with their lowest-ever Premier League points tally.  

In extending their unbeaten run against Chelsea to a club-record 11 Premier League matches, Man Utd move on to 72 points and will confirm a third-place finish with a home win over Fulham on the final day.

Final day on Sunday!

Premier League action returns for one last time on Sunday as 2022/23 comes to a close with 10 matches all kicking off at 16:30 BST.

All eyes will be on the bottom of the table as we find out who will follow Southampton in being relegated.

Everton, Leicester City and Leeds United all have home matches but only one of them can stay up, with Everton the only one of the three with their destiny in their own hands. 

Final-day fixtures

See: Relegation battle: What each club need

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