Chelsea, Man U secure crucial wins amid Europa push


Chelsea extended their European push with a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday, securing a 2-1 win against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

Cole Palmer scored a remarkable header, marking his 22nd Premier League goal of an impressive debut season, to give Chelsea the lead.

Christopher Nkunku later widened the gap in the second half.

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However, Chelsea’s captain Reece James was shown a red card for kicking out at Joao Pedro towards the end of the game.

Despite Danny Welbeck scoring for Brighton in stoppage time, Chelsea managed to hold on to their lead and moved up to sixth place, surpassing Newcastle United, who lost 3-2 against Manchester United.

A draw or victory against AFC Bournemouth on Sunday would guarantee Chelsea’s hold on sixth place and qualification for European competition.

At the start of the game, Chelsea believed they had an opportunity to take an early lead when Facundo Buonanotte was penalized for a challenge on Marc Cucurella, resulting in what seemed like a penalty.

However, after a VAR review, the penalty decision was overturned.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team maintained their offensive pressure, with Malo Gusto’s deflected shot requiring a save from Bart Verbruggen.

Eventually, they found the breakthrough in the 34th minute.

Cucurella made a run down the left flank and delivered a cross into the box, where Palmer met it with a well-placed header that looped over the goalkeeper and found the back of the net.

Nicolas Jackson had a great opportunity to extend Chelsea’s lead just before halftime, but he couldn’t convert Palmer’s cross on the volley.

Shortly after the break, substitute Nkunku came close with a driven shot from the edge of the box that narrowly missed the target.

Brighton had a golden chance to equalize in the 57th minute when Tariq Lamptey’s cross found Pascal Gross unmarked inside the six-yard box, but Gross somehow missed the target.

Pochettino’s team capitalized on Brighton’s miss seven minutes later, as Gusto set up Nkunku for a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Reece James was shown a red card after a VAR review in stoppage time for kicking out at Pedro.

This was James’s second red card of the season, resulting in a four-match suspension, which means he will miss the first three Premier League matches of the 2024, 2025 season.

Brighton increased the pressure from that point, with Simon Adingra hitting the post on the volley before Welbeck scored from a Pedro delivery.

However, Chelsea managed to withstand the pressure and hold on for the win.

Pochettino has been gradually improving Chelsea’s performance since the beginning of 2024, with the team earning 32 points in the Premier League since January.

Palmer’s contributions have undoubtedly been valuable for Pochettino, especially considering the young attacker has scored the opening goal in nine league games this season.

Chelsea fans might not have anticipated a late surge for European qualification, but with the team currently sitting in sixth place going into the final day, their fate is in their own hands.

Meanwhile, Manchester United revived their European aspirations with a 3-2 win against Newcastle United in their last home game of the season.

Kobbie Mainoo found the net just after the half-hour mark, but the Red Devils were quickly equalized early in the second half by Anthony Gordon.

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