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Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United

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Concentration lapses cost Adelaide United a golden chance to snatch pole position for the first time this season in Wollongong on Sunday.

Israeli international Tomer Hemed scored the winner from the penalty spot for Wellington Phoenix in the seventh minute of stoppage time in a 2-1 win at WIN Stadium.

CHAOS as Nix win with last kick! | 00:37

Reds gloveman Joe Gauci flooring Phoenix substitute Jaushua Sotirio during a Phoenix forward thrust when the final whistle was seconds away saw Adelaide drop all points after taking the lead.

Adelaide’s Stefan Mauk scored the second half opener.

Phoenix’s Ben Waine squared the ledger before the sides meet again at Hindmarsh in 12 days.

“Deflated, we were 1-0 up and we had a lot of good chances to make it 2-0,’’ Mauk told Fox Sports.

“It’s disappointing because we have become accustomed to winning and it’s disappointing.”

Ryan Strain came close to scoring his first A-League goal in the 76th minute but his angled drive was expertly parried by Phoenix gloveman Oliver Sail before Josh Cavallo fired the rebound over the bar.

As Adelaide pressed for a winner, the Reds played a high risk game and paid the ultimate price when it was caught short during Phoenix counter attacks.

CONCENTRATION VITAL

A superb team effort set up Adelaide’s opening goal and Mauk’s seventh of the season.

In a move involving striker Tomi Juric and winger Ben Halloran when Phoenix had been outnumbered by a solid Reds press, the skipper angled his shot past gloveman Oliver Sail from eight metres.

Phoenix, however, came back with a Waine equaliser.

Adelaide was caught short on numbers and square in defence in the 58th minute when concentration was at its best for the “home side.”

Ulises Davila did all the damage from midfield with a defence splitting ball which saw Reds centre backs Jordan Elsey and George Timotheou isolated in a two-on-two situation.

Adelaide United couldn’t stop Wellington from continuing its hot run of form.Source: Getty Images

TEXT BOOK FIRST HALF

The first half was a welcome change from the usual basketball-style transitions seen this season, both sides kept possession as best they could.

Phoenix had the best chance when fleet-footed Mexican Davila set up Waine who watched his header crash against the crossbar.

Phoenix’s Alex Rufer escaped with what appeared to be a scissor tackle on Craig Goodwin with just a caution.

A frustrating lack of camera angles were unable to determine whether the challenge was worth investigating further when VAR reviewed the incident in the 10th minute.

JUANDE IS THE KEY

The former Spezia of Italy and Real Betis of Spain midfielder hsd been deployed as a sweeper in front of the Reds centre backs but he has proven much more than a cleaner after joining the club just a month ago.

The Spaniard has the ability to put himself in positions to win balls, release Adelaide’s super wide men Halloran and Goodwin and take pressure off his teammates with perfect timing.

Adelaide’s clever pressing game from attack has also added another dimension with Halloran and Goodwin doing much of the hard work when the Reds haven’t got the ball.

However, not all his teammates were on the same wavelength in Wollongong which cost the Reds dearly.

A-League

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ben Waine 58m, Tomer Hemed 97m) Adelaide United 1 (Stefan Mauk 51m) at WIN Stadium – Referee: Adam Kersey

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Chelsea sent Erling Haaland transfer message after Arsenal defeat

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Chelsea have been linked with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.

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EPL results 2021, Champions League, Liverpool FC, Chelsea, Leicester City, Tottenham, West Ham, scores, table, permutations

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The Premier League title has been confirmed and so have the identities of the three relegated teams, so for the majority of the clubs the season is effectively over with nothing else to play for.

But for five teams, the biggest financial prize of the season – a share of more than $3bn – is still very much up for grabs.

Just 10 points separates third-placed Leicester and seventh-placed Tottenham, with all of the teams in between dreaming of claiming a seat at Europe’s top table.

Champions Manchester City and cross-city rivals Manchester United have both secured their places, leaving just two more to go.

Here’s everything you need to know in the race for the final two spots…

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Who will win the race for the Champions League?
Who will win the race for the Champions League?Source: Getty Images

WHO ARE THE CONTENDERS?

Manchester United did the majority of the contenders no help by putting out a heavily-rotated side against Leicester City on Tuesday morning (AEST) and losing 2-1 at Old Trafford. It meant that the Foxes have a six-point cushion as it stands, with two games to play.

Like United, Arsenal are not involved but they managed to do what the Red Devils couldn’t and keep the race alive for the others with a 1-0 win over fourth-placed Chelsea. That has left the Champions League finalists on 64 points, two behind Leicester and six ahead of West Ham, although both having played a game more than the Hammers and Spurs and two more than Liverpool.

Spurs are the longest shots of the three chasers, with just three games left and a highest possible finishing points total of 65 – just one more than what Chelsea currently have. Put simply, it would take an extraordinary run of results from Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham.

For Leicester City and Chelsea, 69 is the magic number. That’s because it is the highest possible points total Liverpool, who have four games left to play, can finish on. West Ham can’t finish on anything higher than 67.

WHO HAS THE BEST RUN-IN?

It is in the fixtures where Liverpool’s biggest hope lies, if they can get past Manchester United at Old Trafford on Friday morning – which won’t be an easy feat. But if they manage to get three points there, and follow it up with three more against already-relegated West Brom, they will be just one point behind Chelsea and three behind Leicester when they get back from duking it out in the FA Cup final.

Liverpool are then away at Burnley, another winnable fixture, with Leicester and Chelsea staging a FA Cup final repeat in their penultimate games of the season just 24 hours earlier. Whoever wins will be all-but guaranteed a Champions League place and whoever loses will have a very nervous final day of the season.

That last day of the season will see Leicester take on a Europe League-chasing Tottenham, while Chelsea are away at Aston Villa and Liverpool against Crystal Palace.

West Ham’s run in is made up of a trio of very winnable games against Brighton, West Brom and Southampton and will be around to mop up any slip up from the other three around them.

We could feasibly see a final day separating Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham by just three points.

Manchester City’s road to PL glory | 02:45

WILL THERE BE AN EXTRA PLACE?

If Chelsea win the Champions League, that’s where things could change – but only for them.

Should Manchester City win the Champions League, having already qualified through their finishing position, no extra place will be awarded to the Premier League and fifth place will go into the Europa League as usual. It’s the same if Chelsea win the Champions League and finish in the top four anyway.

Similarly, if Manchester United win the Europa League, which gives them a Champions League spot having already secured one through the league, fifth place still remains a Europa spot.

The interesting twist is if Chelsea fall out of the top four but still claim the Champions League against Manchester City. That eventuality would mean that the top four would all qualify for the Champions League through their league positions as usual, with the Blues also qualifying regardless of their finishing position.

That is the only way the Premier League can have five clubs in next year’s competition.

Liverpool, West Ham and Leicester would have breathed a sigh of relief that Arsenal didn’t reach the Europa League final too. As if they’d have won that and Chelsea had won the Champions League and both had finished outside the top four, then only the top three clubs in the league would have entered the Champions League next year.

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Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fires Liverpool shots and teases full strength XI

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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he does not care if their loss to Leicester on Tuesday night hurt rivals Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four.

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