Manchester United qualify for the Champions League with a game to spare
No more Thursday nights next season.
Manchester United have officially qualified for next season’s Champions League, with manager Erik ten Hag putting them back into Europe’s premier tournament at the first time of asking.
Qualification was secured with a 4-1 win over Chelsea, the joint-most goals they’ve scored in a single game all season and even with conceding a late goal, still the biggest margin they have won by since March in their Europa League game against Real Betis.
However, they will once again be leaving the Europa behind and returning to the UCL after securing a top-four finish on Thursday night and could even end up in third depending on their last game of the season against Fulham and how Newcastle fair in their final Premier League fixture against Chelsea.
In truth, it could have been a different game entirely had Chelsea’s finishing been better, with the Londoners starting as the brighter of the two and creating three big chances early in the first 45 alone. Nevertheless, United went in at half-time 2-0 up and took full control of the game in the second half, but for ten Hag it’s only “job done” and not yet “mission accomplished”.
The 53-year-old clearly believes there is much further to go before he gets this Man United team where he wants them, stating that “we want to be the best in the world. We have a long way to go but we are [going] in the right direction” and admittedly crediting how far they’ve come since the start of the season.
They may not have been at their best at times on the night and still managed to give the visitors away a late goal through João Félix, but it was the first conceded at Old Trafford for 11 hours and despite some individual errors this year, David de Gea secured the Golden Glove last weekend with 17 clean sheets.
Casemiro was undoubtedly the star of the show in their penultimate league game, not only grabbing the opening goal but playing a lovely no-look, outside-of-the-boot pass to help set up the second and comfortably earning man of the match.
In fact, although Erik ten Hag told Sky Sports after the full-time whistle that the club “belongs in the Champions League, Gary Neville insisted that they wouldn’t be back in the competition without him.
- Man United and Man City fans to be allocated ‘separate service stations’ for the FA Cup final
- Kevin Sinfield surprised with beautiful artwork commemorating his friendship with Rob Burrow
- Salford City thank ‘outstanding leader’ Karen Baird as she steps down as Chair after 10 years
With an EFL Cup to his name, Champions League qualification and perhaps even a third-place finish overall, that is not a bad first season for the Dutchman.
Now there is simply the matter of going and winning the first-ever Manchester Derby FA Cup final against the newly-crowned champions, Manchester City.
There’s only a treble on the line. No pressure…
You can watch the full highlights of Manchester United vs Chelsea down below:
For all the latest news, events and goings on in Greater Manchester, subscribe to The Manc newsletter HERE.
Featured Image — Manchester United (via Twitter)