Chelsea seized control of their destiny in the Premier League top-four battle as they avenged their FA Cup final defeat by Leicester City to beat them 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Roared on by 8,000 fans Thomas Tuchel’s side dominated and were rewarded after the break with Antonio Rudiger bundling in their opener before
Timo Werner twice had goals ruled out before the break while Leicester, who looked flat after Saturday’s celebrations, offered little threat until Kelechi Iheanacho gave the visitors a lifeline with a cool finish in the 74th minute.
It was a nervy climax and Ayoze Perez wasted a glorious late opportunity to equalize but Chelsea clung on for a priceless win that moved them into third place on 67 points with one game left, meaning a victory at Aston Villa on Sunday will guarantee them Champions League football next season.
Tempers flared in stoppage time with virtually every player on the pitch involved in a mass shoving contest near the touchline after Rudiger pushed Ricardo Pereira.
For Leicester, who three days ago won their first ever FA Cup title over these same Blues at Wembley, there is now the looming possibility that they will let a Champions League berth slip through their fingers for the second season in succession.
They could have ensured a top-four finish had they won at Stamford Bridge but will now drop to fifth, on goal difference, if Liverpool win at Burnley on Wednesday.
Leicester, who have 66 points, finish with a home game versus Tottenham Hotspur while Liverpool’s final game of the season is at home to Crystal Palace.
Had Chelsea lost they would have likely been faced with the prospect of having to beat Manchester City in this month’s Champions League final to return to the competition next season.