Leicester City missed out on Champions League qualification as a Kasper Schmeichel own goal and a late double from Gareth Bale condemned the Foxes to a 4-2 defeat by Tottenham on the final day of the season.
Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Aston Villa meant Brendan Rodgers’ side would have sealed a top-four finish with victory over Spurs and they started well, Jamie Vardy putting them ahead from the penalty spot.
Harry Kane – in what could prove to be his final game for the club amid rumours he wants to leave – pulled Spurs level before the interval, though, with a goal that secured this season’s Golden Boot ahead of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
Another Vardy spot-kick restored Leicester’s lead early in the second half, but there was late heartache for the hosts when Schmeichel – one of the heroes of last weekend’s FA Cup final win over Chelsea – punched into his own net from a corner 14 minutes from full-time.
Bale’s late brace then ensured Brendan Rodgers’ men finished the campaign a point adrift of Thomas Tuchel’s fourth-placed side.
Leicester started on the front foot and went ahead after 18 minutes, Vardy slotting home his 25th Premier League penalty after he had been clipped in the area by Toby Alderweireld – the spot-kick given after referee Anthony Taylor had been encouraged to review the incident by VAR.
Tottenham woke from their slumber before the interval and pulled level with their first shot on target in the 41st minute, Kane volleying through the legs of Kasper Schmeichel after Son Heung-min’s cross was deflected to him 10 yards from goal.
Vardy struck again from the spot to put the Foxes ahead seven minutes after the break after he had been brought down just inside the area by Davinson Sanchez.
Their hopes of sealing a top-four finish suffered a significant blow in the 76th minute, though, when Schmeichel inexplicably punched Son’s corner into his own net.
Leicester crumbled after that, with Bale taking full advantage of generous defending to score his first double as a substitute since the 2018 Champions League final for Real Madrid against Liverpool.
His first came in the 87th minute, the Wales international slamming home after being teed up by Kane, and he scored again deep into stoppage time, tapping in from close range after his initial strike had bounced back off the post.
What does it mean? Painful end to the season for Foxes
Despite last weekend’s FA Cup triumph, Rogers will surely look back on this season as a huge missed opportunity. The Foxes ended 242 days inside the Premier League’s top four this season – more than any other side – yet a haphazard final 14 minutes against Spurs meant they will play in the Europa League next term.
Tottenham, meanwhile, will feature in the new Europa Conference League after securing a seventh-placed finish.
Kane underlines importance
A 23rd goal of the season sealed a third Golden Boot for Kane, the England captain becoming only the third player to win the award as many as three times, after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer (three). Those goals will not be easy to replace, which is why Tottenham will need to do everything in their power to keep hold of the 27-year-old during the off-season.
Schmeichel costs his side dear
Schmeichel will have nightmares about his attempt to clear Son’s corner, with that woeful punch essentially costing Leicester Champions League football next season. It was the Denmark international’s second own goal in the Premier League, with the first coming against Watford in December 2017.
Key Opta Stats:
– Since Leicester’s promotion in 2014, their 14 Premier League meetings with Tottenham have seen 54 goals scored; since 2014-15, the only fixture to witness more goals in the competition is Arsenal v Liverpool (58).
– Having only lost six of their first 25 Premier League games of the season (W15 D4 L6), Leicester have since lost six of their last 13 (W5 D2 L6).
– Vardy has scored two penalties in three different Premier League matches (all this season) – only Steven Gerrard has done so in more different games in the competition’s history (four).
– Kane has scored 15 goals in just 12 Premier League appearances against former club Leicester; in the competition’s history, only Alan Shearer (20 v Leeds & 16 v Everton) and Les Ferdinand (16 v Everton) have scored more times against a single side.
This is the second consecutive season Leicester have let Champions League qualification slip from their grasp – something Rodgers will be desperate to not let happen again next season. Tottenham, meanwhile, have a huge few months ahead of them, as they look to keep hold of Kane and appoint a new permanent manager.
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