Perez double condemns woeful Chelsea to Europa League

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Newcastle United’s Spanish striker Ayoze Perez (right) fires a shot wide of Chelsea’s Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ (centre) goal during the English Premier League football match.

NEWCASTLE, May 14: Chelsea’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League was confirmed as they completed a disappointing Premier League campaign by collapsing to a dismal 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday.
In what is widely expected to be Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s final league game in charge, Ayoze Perez scored twice after Dwight Gayle’s opener, and the below-par Blues had to settle for finishing fifth.
That condemns them to a place in the less prestigious Europa League next season.
Victory at St James’ Park allied to a final-day defeat for Liverpool would have seen Chelsea snatch fourth, and while they failed in their task, it was rendered academic as Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League finalists ran out comfortable winners against Brighton.
Conte’s side still have the incentive of silverware to play for when they face Manchester United in the FA Cup final next Saturday.
But they go into that game with a continuing question mark over their Italian coach following their failure to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition, their points tally 23 less than in their title-winning season 12 months ago.
This could also have been a final game in charge for Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez, with the Spaniard’s future in doubt pending key talks with the club’s owner Mike Ashley in the next week. (AFP)