The finish line is within sight as far as the 2013-14 season goes, but even in this 36th week of the campaign the loanee goal streak continues to stand as Thorgan Hazard struck his fifteenth goal of the season and the 118th overall by a Chelsea player featuring elsewhere. We start with him in Belgium.
The younger Hazard had something of a mid-season slump following a tremendous end to the 2013 calendar year but has recaptured some of his best form just when Zulte Waregem needed him most. On Friday night he scored for the third time since the league split for the title playoffs and looked to have given his team a fine chance of going top of the league (albeit temporarily), but they could only draw 2-2 with Genk and with four games left might be too far adrift of leaders Club Brugge.
His goal was exceptional, even if it did take a small deflection en route to the top corner:
Romelu Lukaku and Everton had an off day as they lost 2-0 at Southampton to further dent their Champions League qualification chances.
Ryan Bertrand and Aston Villa were humbled 4-1 away to Swansea and are still very much in danger of being relegated. The left-back played the full ninety minutes at the Liberty Stadium but no Villain is doing themselves justice in a very tense and nervy finale to their year.
Victor Moses was ineligible to play for Liverpool against Chelsea and so watched from the stands as Steven Gerrard slipped to potentially throw away the Reds’ title hopes.
In The Championship, the penultimate round of fixtures of the season saw a number of youngsters play in front of their home fans for the last time. Nathaniel Chalobah (from the bench) and Kenneth Omeruo did that for Middlesbrough as they beat Barnsley 3-1 and inflicted relegation upon them, although Omeruo did limp off injured in the second half. Chalobah had a big hand in Boro’s second goal, striding forward to release Albert Adomah before Danny Graham eventually put the ball into the net.
Josh McEachran didn’t get the same opportunity for Wigan as he remained an unused substitute in their defeat against Blackpool, and Sam Hutchinson was prevented from a Hillsborough farewell for Sheffield Wednesday due to serving the second game of his two-match suspension.
Patrick Bamford got fifteen minutes from the bench as Derby beat Watford 4-2 to secure third place and home advantage in the second leg of their Playoff Semi Final against one of Reading, Wigan or Brighton, whilst Todd Kane was an unused substitute for Blackburn away to Charlton and despite the three points it would take a mathematical miracle for Rovers to jump into the last playoff place next weekend.
In League One, George Saville and Brentford looked to have one foot out of the holiday door after securing promotion last weekend and were duly hammered 4-1 by Colchester United, for whom former Chelsea goalkeeper Sam Walker saved a penalty to help guarantee their place in the division next season.
Milan Lalkovic played 79 minutes for Walsall as they lost 3-2 at Stevenage.
Daniel Pappoe’s loan spell at Kingstonian has clearly been extended beyond the initial month as he’s been there well over six weeks now and continues to be a heady presence in their defence as they chase promotion from the Ryman Premier League. He played in a 1-1 draw at Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday in a result that saw them finish second and they now meet Hornchurch in the playoffs this midweek.
The Eredivisie returned from an Easter Weekend hiatus (due to the KNVB Cup Final) but Vitesse’s terrible run of form extended into a sixth game as they drew 2-2 with Go Ahead Eagles to cast serious doubt on their chances of playing Europa League football next season. Patrick van Aanholt, Bertrand Traore and Christian Atsu all started and Lucas Piazon saw some time from the bench late on as they found themselves 2-0 down with fifteen minutes remaining.
Goals from Guram Kashia and a sensational strike by Davy Pröpper rescued a point but they now find themselves 5th ahead of a final day trip to Utrecht knowing they must better PSV’s result if they are to qualify directly into the Third Qualifying Round of the competition instead of taking part in the domestic playoffs with 6th, 7th and 8th for a chance to progress instead.
None of the Chelsea quartet played particularly well although Van Aanholt went close to winning it with a late shot and Atsu was lively at times in the first half. The Ghanaian was also named as the club’s Player of the Season, a deserved accolade for a player who has enjoyed a fabulous run of form since January.
Stipe Perica played fifteen minutes from the bench for NAC Breda in a 1-1 draw with RKC Waalwijk, and on Friday in the second tier, Cristian Cuevas and FC Eindhoven won 2-1 away to Almere City to finish sixth at the end of the regular season and will now take place in the first round of a staggered playoff format to decide promotion.
Thibaut Courtois kept a midweek clean sheet in Atlético Madrid’s Champions League Semi Final goalless draw against parent club Chelsea and was the centre of attention when opposite number Petr Cech went down with a broken shoulder that may yet lead to the young Belgian replacing him at Stamford Bridge.
He then kept a sixth successive shutout in all competitions with a 1-0 win at Valencia on Sunday as Atléti edge closer and closer to becoming champions in La Liga. Oriol Romeu was not involved for the hosts, having been an unused substitute for Thursday’s Europa League defeat at Sevilla, for whom Marko Marin played half an hour from the bench. Marin remained an unused sub during Sunday’s defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
In the second tier, Uli Dávila played ten minutes for Córdoba in a 1-1 draw at home to Mirandés with a point just about maintaining their outside hopes of a playoff place, and in Segunda B Jhon Pírez remained absent from Leganés own promotion push. They drew 1-1 with Toledo.
Billy Clifford’s spell with Royal Antwerp came to a fitting end on Sunday as he remained an unused substitute in their 2-0 defeat at Hoogstraten. Despite being more than capable of helping on the pitch he rarely received enough playing time and will now return to England with an outside chance of helping Chelsea’s Under-21s out in their bid to win their own title.
Kurt Zouma played 25 minutes – which is 25 minutes more than usual – for Saint Etienne in a 2-1 win away to Evian.
Neither Gael Kakuta nor Wallace played this weekend and nobody really expected them to, did they?
Mario Pašalić missed Hajduk Split’s 3-0 defeat away to Slaven with a minor injury.
Matej Delac was absent for a second consecutive fixture for FK Sarajevo, who beat NK Vitez 4-0.