Tottenham's Champions League hopes hit further by 2-0 loss at Chelsea in Premier League

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Chelsea's Nicolas Jackson, centre right, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON – Tottenham’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are getting thinner by the day.

By falling 2-0 at Chelsea on Thursday, Tottenham slumped to a second loss to a London rival in the space of four days in the Premier League — after a 3-2 home defeat to Arsenal in the north London derby on Sunday.

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In between those losses came confirmation that England will have just four places in next season’s expanded Champions League, and not five.

That’s another blow to Spurs, who are fifth and stayed seven points behind fourth-place Aston Villa with one game in hand. They still have to play Liverpool and Manchester City in their remaining four games so it is looking increasingly unlikely they will close the gap to Villa.

“We lacked belief and conviction in our game," Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said. “I don’t know if it's low confidence but we're not playing with the mindset we need to play the football we want to and that's something I have to look at.”

Headed goals by Trevoh Chalobah in the 24th and Nicolas Jackson in the 72nd were enough for Chelsea, which could yet salvage a place in one of the minor European competitions from what has been an underwhelming Premier League campaign for a squad assembled at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Chelsea climbed above West Ham and into eighth place, two points behind Newcastle and three behind Manchester United in sixth. It’s likely that two of those three teams will be playing in either the Europa League or Europa Conference League next season.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino said it was the best feeling he had had all season about his team.

“It’s the moment, after 10 months, that we start to realize how we compete,” Pochettino said. "It showed we're doing things well.

“We showed it's not about names. It’s about being competitive.”

Pochettino, however, didn't sound convinced he had the backing of Chelsea's American owners to be around next season.

“It’s difficult to see I am under scrutiny and judgment every week,” he said, adding: “We’ll see if I have time to build after today.”

Tottenham has now won just one of its past 34 away league games against Chelsea, making it one of the most one-sided top-flight fixtures. The sole victory came in 2018, when Pochettino was in charge of Spurs.

Chalobah got on the end of a free kick by Conor Gallagher to loop a header over Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario and into the net to give Chelsea the lead. It was a 15th goal this season conceded from a set piece by Spurs and that is becoming a major issue under Postecoglou.

Jackson, who had a shot partially saved by Vicario and subsequently cleared off the line by Micky van de Ven in the first half, eventually got his goal when he was quickest to react after Cole Palmer’s free kick rebounded out off the crossbar. Jackson did well to head the ball over two Tottenham defenders who were retreating toward their own goal line.

Tottenham is six points clear of Man United and might have to settle for a fifth-place finish, which would earn a spot in next season's Europa League.


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