LONDON: Chelsea will have to win the Champions League final if they are to compete in next season’s edition after a 4-1 defeat by Liverpool on Tuesday ended their hopes of a top four Premier League finish.
Just three days after beating Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup final at Wembley, Chelsea were 3-0 behind inside half an hour at Anfield following an own-goal from Michael Essien and goals from Jordan Henderson and Daniel Agger.
Ramires scored for Chelsea early in the second half before Jonjo Shelvey ended any hope of a comeback with his first Premier League goal.
England’s top four clubs will enter next term’s Champions League unless Chelsea beat Bayern Munich at the German club’s ground in the final on May 19.
If Chelsea win, it will deprive the team in fourth of a place in the preliminary round.
This defeat meant the top four was beyond the reach of Chelsea, who will now finish in sixth spot, as it left them five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with just three on offer for beating already relegated Blackburn in their final league match of the season on Sunday.
Chelsea’s interim manager Roberto di Matteo defended his decision to make eight changes from the team that ran out at Wembley by saying: “We’ve come so far because we’ve used the energy and players we have in the squad.