We’ve reached Week 37 of the 2013-14 club football season and thanks to a couple of Belgians and an unlikely Mexican, the streak of Chelsea loanees scoring in each and every one of them continues. We start our look back over the last seven days of action with Thorgan Hazard.
With the Belgian title playoffs reaching their zenith, every point matters for the younger Hazard and his Zulte Waregem team, and he’s been in sparkling form since the league split at the end of March. A fourth goal in seven games and a sixteenth of the season in all competitions arrived on Friday night but it ultimately did Essevee little good as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat away to Standard Liege and received three red cards in a match that saw four total dismissals and three spot kicks awarded.
The result allowed Standard to move five points clear of Zulte with three games remaining but with Club Brugge and Anderlecht also involved in the race, it’s all about securing European football again next season for Hazard and company.
A day later, compatriot Romelu Lukaku also grabbed his fifteenth goal of the season as Everton attempted to stage a late comeback against Manchester City at Goodison, but their eventual 3-2 defeat means they cannot qualify for the Champions League.
Whilst he and Hazard have been front and centre in the Loan Report for much of the last nine months, the same cannot be said for Ulises Dávila, but he made a welcome return to the headlines on Saturday by netting the only goal of the game to secure three points for Córdoba away to Barcelona B. It was a very nice goal too.
Ryan Bertrand was once again used in midfield by Aston Villa in a 3-1 victory over Hull City that guaranteed their place amongst the Premier League next year. It was the final home game of his stay at the club and a double lap of honour after the final whistle hinted at the young defender’s possible desire to seal a permanent deal in the summer.
Victor Moses and Liverpool take on Crystal Palace on Monday night and this report will be updated with any news of his involvement.
It was the final weekend of Football League action for 60 of the 72 clubs with no post-season playoff involvement and so Nathaniel Chalobah, Kenneth Omeruo, Todd Kane, Sam Hutchinson, George Saville and Milan Lalkovic signed off at the teams they’ve spent the latest stage of their careers at.
Chalobah’s final appearance in a Middlesbrough shirt was brought to a premature end as he limped out of their 4-1 win at Yeovil midway through the first half. Omeruo was an unused substitute having not been 100% himself after picking up a knock last week, but both players had a generally successful spell on Teesside and with Aitor Karanka remaining close with Jose Mourinho, more Blues could be heading to the Riverside in 2014-15.
Hutchinson returned from a two-match ban to take part in Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Ipswich whilst Kane wasn’t even involved for Blackburn in their 4-3 win over Josh McEachran’s Wigan Athletic.
McEachran played the full match in midfield for a Latics team who now face Queens Park Rangers in the playoffs, with the winner set for a Wembley showdown against either Brighton or Patrick Bamford’s Derby County. Bamford played all bar a few seconds of their final day draw at Leeds in a match that ultimately meant nothing towards their bigger ambitions with third place long since sewn up.
Brenford’s promotion from League One was also in the bag some time ago and they brought the curtain down on their best season for twenty years with a 2-0 win over Stevenage. Saville was afforded a standing ovation when being substituted twenty minutes from time and there is a strong possibility he returns to the Bees again next season on a permanent basis.
Lalkovic’s time at Walsall is done however, with the Slovakian unlikely to stay following their failure to maintain a challenge for promotion. He didn’t feature in their defeat to Colchester United.
In the Ryman Premier League, Daniel Pappoe and Kingstonian lost 1-0 to Hornchurch in their own playoffs on Wednesday night and the big Ghanaian also returns to Cobham after a very successful two-month stay at Kingsmeadow.
Thibaut Courtois will play in the Champions League Final after Atlético Madrid won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to eliminate parent club Chelsea. The Belgian was in excellent form in frustrating his future employers and may well have done enough over the two legs to tip the balance towards a definite return to London this summer.
On Sunday though their title challenge took a considerable dent with a 2-0 defeat away to Levante that threatens to blow the race wide open as Real Madrid appear set to pounce on Atléti’s mistake.
Whilst Courtois will feature in UEFA’s headline act, Marko Marin and Sevilla will take their place on the undercard as a last-minute goal away to Oriol Romeu’s Valencia took them through to the Europa League Final against Benfica. Marin played ten minutes from the bench and then in all ninety of Sevilla’s 0-0 draw against Valladolid, whilst Romeu played no part either in Europe or away to Real Madrid on Sunday.
Jhon Pírez made a welcome return from injury as a late substitute for Leganés, who beat Sariñena 4-0 to guarantee a playoff place in Segunda B Group 2.
It was the final weekend of regular season action in the Eredivisie but Vitesse’s seventh match without victory consigned them to a series of playoffs with three other teams in order to earn a spot in the preliminary qualifying rounds of next season’s Europa League.
Christian Atsu, Bertrand Traore and Patrick van Aanholt all played ninety minutes in their 2-1 defeat at Utrecht and there was no time for unused substitute Lucas Piazon, but Peter Bosz’s side were once again thoroughly disappointing and are in grave danger of failing to qualify for continental competition as they now must beat Groningen over two legs and either Heerenveen or AZ Alkmaar in a two-legged tie thereafter.
Atsu cut a frustrated figure all afternoon as he was unable to influence proceedings in his usual lively manner, whilst Traore was too often marginalised even when he moved to centre-forward at half time. Van Aanholt had a good game going forward, having been given the licence to by lining up on the left of midfield in a 3-4-3 formation, but his defending for Juan Agudelo’s winner ultimately left a lot to be desired.
Stipe Perica was handed a rare start and ninety minutes for NAC Breda in their 2-0 defeat against a PSV Eindhoven side for whom former blue Jeffrey Bruma scored, and in the second division Cristian Cuevas and FC Eindhoven were eliminated from the promotion playoffs by Sparta Rotterdam. The Chilean will now turn his attention to international representation having been named in his country’s party for the upcoming Toulon Tournament.
Kurt Zouma played two minutes of Saint Etienne’s 2-0 win over Montpellier on Sunday afternoon.The victory improved ASSE’s chances of playing Europa League football next season but Zouma won’t be around to see it.
Wallace did not play. Gael Kakuta did not play, although this weekend it was at least because Lazio didn’t play either. They host Verona on Monday night but he’s still not going to feature.
Mario Pašalić returned to the Hajduk Split team after missing out last week but was unable to help them avoid a 1-0 defeat at home to NK Istra.
Matej Delac was left out of FK Sarajevo’s team for the third successive match and this time it was for a big derby away to Zeljeznicar.