Chelsea clinch champions league spot

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Chelsea secured their place in the Champions League next season with victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge.

The win, combined with Arsenal’s draw against Brighton, means the Blues are guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League.

After a quiet first half, Chelsea scored twice within three minutes early in the second period through headers by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz.

Gonzalo Higuain sealed the points with a neat finish from Pedro’s pass for his fifth goal for the club.

The win moves Chelsea up to third, one point ahead of Tottenham and four points clear of the fifth-placed Gunners.

FA Cup finalists Watford started brightly, going close through Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu, but were left to rue their slow start to the second half that saw Chelsea quickly take the game away from them.

The Hornets, who stay 10th, have now won just one of their past five Premier League games since their FA Cup semi-final victory over Wolves last month.

Watford’s hopes of finishing seventh were already over going into this game after Wolves’ win against Fulham on Saturday, meaning they have to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final if they want to qualify for the Europa League.

Watford head coach Javi Gracia named a strong side, including a return for captain and top scorer Troy Deeney after completing a three-match ban.

The Hornets boss says his players cannot afford to lose focus in their remaining league games with cup final starting places up for grabs. That was demonstrated by a lively start, with Deulofeu fizzing a 20-yard-effort just wide of the post before Deeney’s powerful header was superbly clawed onto the post by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Jose Holebas then fired over the bar from just inside the area as Watford continued to dominate the opening stages, sparking murmurs of frustration from the home crowd.

But after working so hard in the opening 45 minutes, Gracia must have been frustrated at their slow start to the second period, conceding twice from set pieces in quick succession.

Deulofeu, the hero of Watford’s FA Cup semi-final win over Wolves last month, continued to be a threat and was unlucky to see his low drive go just wide of the post with Kepa unmoved. Holebas then clipped the bar after stealing the ball from Mateo Kovacic just outside the area.

Watford’s day was perhaps summed up when a late header from Isaac Success was ruled out after the ball inadvertently hit team-mate Andre Gray, who was in an offside position.

Chelsea welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to Stamford Bridge on Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final (20:00 BST). The Blues then travel to Leicester while Watford host West Ham on the final day of the Premier League season next Sunday (both 15:00).



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