Chelsea qualify for Champions League as Arsenal, Man Utd flop

Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain, second from right, scores his side’s third goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge stadium. (AP Photo)
Updated 05 May 2019

Chelsea qualify for Champions League as Arsenal, Man Utd flop

  • Chelsea beat Watford 3-0 to lift them into third spot behind Liverpool and Manchester City and their day was made all the sweeter as United drew at relegated Huddersfield and Arsenal were held by Brighton
  • The results mean that with one round of fixtures remaining Chelsea, on 71 points, cannot be caught by fifth-placed Arsenal, who are on 67 points, or United, a point further back

LONDON: Chelsea secured a place in next season’s Champions League on Sunday as Manchester United and Arsenal badly fluffed their lines in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Maurizio Sarri’s side beat Watford 3-0 to lift them into third spot behind Liverpool and Manchester City and their day was made all the sweeter as United drew at relegated Huddersfield and Arsenal were held by Brighton.
The results mean that with one round of fixtures remaining Chelsea, on 71 points, cannot be caught by fifth-placed Arsenal, who are on 67 points, or United, a point further back.
Fourth-placed Tottenham, on 70 points and with a far better goal difference than north London rivals Arsenal, are virtually assured of Champions League football next season barring an unlikely sequence of events.
Sarri’s team were booed off after a sloppy first half, but two goals in three minutes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz lifted the mood at Stamford Bridge before Gonzalo Higuain sealed victory, Chelsea’s first in four games in all competitions.
Finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League would make the Italian manager’s troubled first season a relative success.
“We want to be in the top four at the end of the season. We want to be in the Champions League,” said Sarri, whose side drew the first leg of their Europa League semifinal against Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1.
“The Europa League is also a very important competition and we want to win it because we think we deserve to a trophy this season. So we have two targets.”
Despite their miserable 1-1 draw, Arsenal can still reach the Champions League after two seasons away from Europe’s top club competition if they win the Europa League.
They are in a strong position after beating Valencia 3-1 in the first leg of the semifinal.
Arsenal, who came into the match after three straight Premier League defeats, started brightly at the Emirates and took the lead through an early Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.
But they squandered opportunities to extend their advantage and were made to pay when Glenn Murray scored from the spot following the hour mark after Granit Xhaka fouled Solly March.
Arsenal poured forward in search of a winner but Aubameyang volleyed wide from close range and Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan made several fine saves to keep them at bay.
Disappointed boss Unai Emery turned his thoughts to Thursday’s second leg of their Europa League tie, with Arsenal set to finish outside the top four for a third consecutive season.
“We knew it is going to be difficult but our focus is now the Europa League,” he told the BBC. “We have the opportunity in the Europa League to do something important and we will try and do that.”
United slinked off the pitch at Huddersfield after an embarrassing 1-1 draw, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting his side did not deserve to qualify for the Champions League.
The visitors had to rely on Huddersfield for a helping hand for their only goal as Scott McTominay’s strike from the edge of the box went straight through Jonas Lossl’s to given them an early lead.
Huddersfield had only scored nine goals at home all season, but one hopeful punt from Lossl cut United open for the equalizer on the hour mark.
Luke Shaw failed to cut out the Danish goalkeeper’s clearance and allowed Isaac Mbenza a clear run on goal to slot between David de Gea’s legs.
United have now won just two of their past 11 games in all competitions, leaving the decision to hand Solskjaer the job on a permanent basis in March open to question.
“We gave ourselves a chance to be in the Champions League,” Solskjaer said of a run of 14 wins in his first 17 games in charge before the rot of the past few months set in.
“We got so many opportunities to grab third or fourth and weren’t able to. The Europa League is the right place to be for us next year.”
Barring an astonishing Spurs collapse, the only issue that remains to be decided in the Premier League is the destination of the title.
Manchester City, two points behind leaders Liverpool but with a game in hand, host Leicester on Monday, with the final round of fixtures taking place next Sunday.


Kuzma’s 3-pointer lifts Lakers past Nuggets

Updated 12 August 2020

Kuzma’s 3-pointer lifts Lakers past Nuggets

  • The Lakers had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference before their losing streak started

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.: Kyle Kuzma hit a 3-pointer with .4 seconds left and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 124-121 Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

LeBron James threw an inbounds pass to Anthony Davis, who flipped it to Kuzma on the right wing for the game-winner as the clock ran down.

The Lakers, outplayed down the stretch by Denver’s bench, got 29 points and 12 assists from James, who hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Anthony Davis had 27 points and Kuzma 25.

P.J. Dozier had a chance to put the Nuggets up by one with 4.4 seconds left but missed the second of two free throws. Kuzma rebounded and the Lakers called timeout to set up the winning play.

Dozier had been fouled by Kuzma while driving the lane after a miss by James.

James had given the Lakers a 121-119 lead by converting a 3-point play with 45.7 seconds to go. Monte Morris made one of two free throws for the Nuggets.

The Lakers had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference before their losing streak started. They are 3-4 in the bubble with one game to go.

Dozier scored 18 and Michael Porter Jr. had 15 for the Nuggets, who are currently the No. 3 seed in the West.

The Lakers took an 87-80 lead late in the third quarter after two buckets by Kuzma and two free throws by Davis. But the Nuggets went on an 8-1 run to finish the quarter in an 88-88 tie. Mason Plumlee made a jumper and Bol Bol and Morris each made a 3-pointer

Davis grabbed the rebound of Kuzma’s miss for a slam dunk at the halftime buzzer that gave the Lakers a 64-59 halftime lead. 

Davis also made a similar play off miss by Kuzma in the last minute of the first quarter.