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Aston Villa slips in the race for the Champions League after a 1-0 defeat at Brighton

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — A bad week got worse for Aston Villa on Sunday after a surprise 1-0 defeat at Brighton in the race for the top four in the Premier League.

Unai Emery’s team lost 4-2 at home to Olympiakos in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday. And on a day when Villa could have secured their place in next season’s Champions League, they suffered another setback.

Joao Pedro’s goal in the 87th minute at the Amex Stadium gave hope to fifth-place Tottenham as they chase fourth-place Villa. Tottenham played Liverpool at Anfield later on Sunday with the chance to move within four points of Villa with a game in hand.

Villa would have been assured of a top-four finish if they had won at Brighton and Spurs had lost to Liverpool.

CHELSEA ROUTT WEST HAM

Chelsea’s troubled season could still end on a high after Mauricio Pochettino’s side boosted their chances of European football with a 5-0 defeat to West Ham on Sunday.

The win at Stamford Bridge lifted Chelsea to seventh in the standings and two points behind Newcastle in sixth. Only the top six teams from the Premier League are guaranteed a place in Europe next season.

While Chelsea’s exorbitant spending under American owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital should put the 2021 Champions League winner back in contention for the biggest prizes, qualifying for Europe would mark progress after finishing in the bottom half of last year having finished the rankings and another season of contention this term.

After a morale-boosting 2-0 win against Tottenham on Thursday, Chelsea followed up by beating West Ham.

Nicolas Jackson scored twice in the second half after Chelsea raced into a 3-0 lead with goals from Cole Palmer, Conor Gallagher and Noni Madueke.

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James Robson is present https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

James Robson, The Associated Press