Ndidi, Iheanacho Miss out of Champions League on Final Day

 Ndidi, Iheanacho Miss out of Champions League on Final Day

It was another heartbreak final day of the English Premier League season for the duo of Nigerian internationals, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho who along with their Leicester City teammates were again denied UEFA Champions League actions next season.

Brendan Rodgers’ men who needed to beat Tottenham Hotspur at their King’s Power Stadium and hoped either Chelsea or Liverpool slip up in the final day race for the Top Four finish, were beaten 4-2 by Spurs.

Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa to take their destiny away from their control while Liverpool got the job done with a 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace.

But two late goals by Welshman, Garett Bale who was playing the last game of his loan spell at Spurs effectively ended Leicester’s ambition and condemned them to the second tier Europa League as fifth place finishers in the Premiership.

It was almost a repeat of last season’s final day when they similarly lost the chance to mix with the big boys of European club football in the elite Champions League.

With the Foxes leading Spurs 2-1 up till the 75th minute with Jamie Vardy’s two penalty goals against the lone strike by Harry Kane, an own goal from Kasper Schmeichel ripped the heart out of City’s challenge. The keeper punched a corner into his own net under pressure to make the score 2-2 with 14 minutes left to play.

That effectively changed the course of the game and left the Foxes rueing what another missed chance for a top four finish.

For the Reds, the final day battle didn’t pose any tough challenge for them at Anfield as they got the job done beating Crystal Palace 2-0 to salvage Champions League qualification from a chaotic season undermined by serious injuries and a catastrophic run of home form after the turn of the year.

Jurgen Klopp’s side never threatened to retain their Premier League title and fell timidly to Real Madrid in the Champions League but Liverpool rallied to win their final five Premier League games – including a remarkable last-gasp header by keeper Alisson at West Bromwich Albion – to claim a prize that looked unlikely since the turn of the year.

Liverpool were initially nervous but got the result they needed against Palace – who had Roy Hodgson taking charge for the final time – thanks to two goals from Sadio Mane.

The Senegal forward poked home from a corner nine minutes before half-time to ease the early anxieties and wrapped up victory and a coveted Champions League place with a deflected shot in the 74th minute.

David Moyes’ West Ham clinched sixth place in the Premier League on the final day and a spot in next season’s Europa League group stage – after comfortably beating Southampton 3-0 in front of 10,000 supporters at London Stadium.

The Hammers needed only a draw to guarantee a top-six finish, but Pablo Fornals’ first-half brace ensured the Hammers end a superb campaign on 65 points – their highest tally in the top flight.

Ayomide Oyewole

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