We bring you silverware in the latest Loan Report as four of Chelsea’s army of loanees tasted success this weekend. There’s also another couple of goals as we hunt down a record tally, and all of the usual news and updates, but we begin in Rotterdam…
Vitesse will celebrate their 125th birthday in a fortnight’s time, and they will be able to do so in style after lifting their first-ever major trophy after beating AZ Alkmaar 2-0 in the KNVB Beker Final on Sunday afternoon at Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s late double got the job done in a close match generally edged by AZ, but it ensured that Lewis Baker, Matt Miazga, Nathan and Mukhtar Ali – as well as Assistant Manager Andy Myers – will each return from Arnhem with a winners’ medal in their carry-on luggage at the end of this season. Miazga was solid in defence in his comeback from a hamstring injury whilst Baker, who scored a competition-high five goals en route to the final, was a little quiet but worked hard in midfield. Nathan played 73 minutes and Ali was an unused substitute.
The win means they take their place directly in next season’s Europa League group stages, having failed to progress beyond the qualifying rounds on their three previous attempts. They reached the Third Round of the old UEFA Cup back in 2002-03 but a guaranteed six matches of quality UEFA competition next season will be of benefit to whichever Blues prospects make the same journey to the Netherlands next season.
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Back in England, Izzy Brown and Christian Atsu scored this week to take us up to 122 goals for the season, just three shy of the 2013-14 haul of 125, a club record that will now surely be broken. Brown netted in his first start after a month-long layoff with a 25-yard special away to Wolves to earn a 1-0 win that secured a playoff place for Huddersfield Town. He, and just about everyone else, was then rested for the weekend defeat at Birmingham.
Atsu, meanwhile, scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season to firstly help Newcastle confirm their return to the Premier League, before then delivering a most delightful free kick away to Cardiff City on Friday night to keep their chances of pipping Brighton to the league title alive for another week.
Newcastle’s promotion also triggered an option for the club to buy Atsu outright this summer for a fee reported to be somewhere in the region of £5m to £8m. It remains to be seen whether they do so or not but, at the age of 25, the Ghanaian winger is likely to move on permanently from his time at Chelsea one way or another.
Having said last week that it would be a surprise to see Loic Remy in a Crystal Palace shirt again, his twenty-minute cameo against Burnley on Saturday raised eyebrows, but little more than that.
The penultimate round of Championship action saw Tammy Abraham’s Bristol City confirm their place in the division for next season with a 1-0 win away to Brighton, for whom Fikayo Tomori was a late substitute. Brighton are already promoted and hold the destiny of the title in their own hands, but will have to win next weekend to ensure they go up as champions. Abraham, meanwhile, has one more game in City red before moving onto bigger and better things in 2017-18, perhaps with Brighton, who have been linked with him this past week.
Fulham secured their place in the playoffs with a 1-1 draw at home to Brentford; Tomas Kalas performing solidly in defence and Lucas Piazon getting half an hour from the bench, and they will be the team everyone will want to avoid in the race to reach the Premier League.
League One drew to a close on Sunday – a week earlier than the rest of the Football League due to the FA Cup affecting playoff final dates – and it did so with Jay Dasilva’s Charlton beating a Swindon team featuring Charlie Colkett, Fankaty Dabo and Islam Feruz 3-0 at the Valley. Dasilva finished his stay in South London with an assist and on the rise overall, having earned a regular place in the starting eleven at left-back, but the Blues trio at Swindon will all move on having experienced the other side of football, with their relegation being confirmed last week.
Jake Clarke-Salter also said his goodbyes to Bristol Rovers after a season in which he spent some five months out injured; their 4-3 defeat at home to Millwall allowed the visitors to sneak into the playoffs.
League Two’s 45th round of matches saw Jamal Blackman and Wycombe held to a 1-1 draw at Morecambe – the goal he conceded was a fine long-range strike – and leaves them facing a myriad of final-day playoff permutations, with seven teams chasing two places.
Blackpool vs Leyton Orient
Colchester United vs Yeovil Town
Crawley Town vs Mansfield Town
Exeter City vs Carlisle United
Stevenage vs Accrington Stanley
Wycombe Wanderers vs Cambridge United
Alex Kiwomya didn’t make Crewe’s squad for the long trip to Plymouth, whilst in the National League, Nathan Baxter signed off his half-season stay at Solihull Moors with a 1-1 draw away to Guiseley.
The inevitable was confirmed this weekend when Granada were beaten 2-0 at home by Málaga and then 2-1 at Real Sociedad to confirm their relegation to the Segunda Division. Victorien Angban started the latter of the two fixtures whilst Jeremie Boga, who committed his international future to the Ivory Coast in midweek, came off the bench in a bid to spark Tony Adams’ team into life.
Juan Cuadrado played 79 minutes as Juventus drew 2-2 at Atalanta on Friday night, and with Roma’s defeat to Lazio, they can now clinch the Serie A title next weekend, which in turn would trigger an obligation to buy the Colombian winger outright for some €20m.
Mario Pašalić was an unused substitute as Milan laboured to a draw at lowly Crotone.
The German Cup Semi Final draw saw Andreas Christensen’s Borussia Mönchengladbach take on Michael Hector’s Eintracht Frankfurt for a place in the showpiece final in Berlin next month. A tepid contest eventually went all the way to penalties, where Hector – restored to the starting eleven for the first time in a month – scored his confidently, but Christensen saw his sudden-death effort saved. The Dane was briefly reprieved but Gladbach went on to miss again, and it was Hector and company who advanced to play Dortmund.
Gladbach beat Mainz whilst Eintracht lost to Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga at the weekend – both men playing a full ninety minutes – and they each still harbour outside chances of a place in the Europa League qualifiers.
The cup final meant there was no Eredivisie action this weekend, so Bertrand Traore, Marco van Ginkel and Danilo Pantic had some time off. Van Ginkel chose to spend it in support of his former club.
Cristian Cuevas was twice an unused substitute for Sint-Truiden this week, whilst Matej Delač played in Mouscron’s draw against Lokeren but not their following fixture against Roeselare.
Kenneth Omeruo was sent off as Alanyaspor were beaten 3-0 at Kayserispor, having been adjudged to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity just before half time.
Miro Muheim still hasn’t played for FC Zurich.
Wallace didn’t play for Gremio in their 4-1 Copa Libertadores win over Guaraní.
Joao Rodriguez remains absent for Cortuluá.