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Chelsea Close in on Europe as Win at Brighton Takes Them Sixth

 Chelsea Close in on Europe as Win at Brighton Takes Them Sixth

Nicolas Jackson of Chelsea
Nicolas Jackson of Chelsea takes on Lewis Dunk of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England(Image-Getty) 

15 May 2024

Chelsea secured their fourth consecutive Premier League win on Wednesday, beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at the Amex Stadium. This victory lifts Chelsea to sixth place, overtaking Newcastle United, who suffered a 3-2 defeat against Manchester United.

Key Moments and Match Summary:

Chelsea's early momentum seemed poised to earn them a penalty when Facundo Buonanotte fouled Marc Cucurella. However, VAR overturned the decision. Chelsea continued to press, with Malo Gusto’s deflected shot being tipped over by Brighton’s goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

The breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Marc Cucurella delivered a perfect cross, and Cole Palmer’s header looped into the net, marking his 22nd Premier League goal of the season. Nicolas Jackson missed a volley from Palmer’s cross just before halftime, keeping the score at 1-0.

In the second half, Christopher Nkunku extended Chelsea's lead with a first-time finish from Malo Gusto's cutback in the 64th minute. Brighton missed a golden opportunity to equalize when Pascal Gross failed to convert from close range.

Reece James was sent off late in the match after a VAR review showed he kicked out at Joao Pedro, earning a four-match suspension. Brighton applied pressure, hitting the post through Simon Adingra and scoring via Danny Welbeck in stoppage time, but Chelsea held on for the win.

Implications for Chelsea:

With this win, Chelsea moved to sixth place in the league. A win or draw against AFC Bournemouth on Sunday will secure their spot in European competition next season. Fifth place is still within reach if Tottenham Hotspur loses to Sheffield United.

Remaining Fixtures:

Sunday, 19 May:

  - Brentford vs. Newcastle (20:30, Gtech Community Stadium)

  - Brighton vs. Man Utd (20:30, American Express Stadium)

  - Chelsea vs. Bournemouth (20:30, Stamford Bridge)

  - Sheffield Utd vs. Spurs (20:30, Bramall Lane)

Impact of the FA Cup Final:

The outcome of the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Manchester City will affect the final European qualifications:

If Man City wins:

The Europa League spot will go to the highest-placed team not already qualified, likely affecting the sixth-place spot.

If Man United wins and finishes in the top six:

The fifth-placed team will join them in the Europa League, and the sixth-placed team will qualify for the Europa Conference League.

If Man United wins and finishes seventh or eighth:

Only the fifth-placed team will join United in the Europa League, with the sixth-placed team entering the Europa Conference League.

Brighton's Struggles:

Brighton's loss extended their winless streak when conceding the first goal to 11 matches, dating back to a victory over Brentford on 6 December. Their top-half finish is now their main aim as they sit 10th, four points behind West Ham United.

Key Statistics:

- Chelsea have won four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since October 2022.

- Only the league’s bottom four teams have fewer points in 2024 than Brighton.

- Chelsea’s matches have seen 137 goals this season, the most in a single campaign for the club.

- Palmer has scored 22 goals this season, the third-highest for Chelsea in a single campaign after Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

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