The final matchweek of European football was a sheer paradise for fans across the globe. Leicester City, who spent most of their English Premier League 2020/21 season inside the top four, failed to seal a UEFA Champions League spot on the very last day, while Serie A giants Juventus ended up squeezing into the top four as Napoli were halted by Verona.
There were other elements to it too. For the first time since 2013, the French Ligue 1 had a winner that was neither Paris Saint-Germain nor AS Monaco. Christophe Galtier’s Lille were crowned the new champions on the final day after the team defeated Angers 2-1.
Here’s what panned out across Europe.
While Manchester United’s second spot was confirmed, they ended their season with a 2-1 win over Wolves. The team, in fact, completed the match with as many as seven academy players in the lineup.
Will Fish at 18 years,3 months and 6 days becomes the 243rd Manchester United player to graduate from the Academy into the first team...a British record...seven Academy players on the pitch now...50% of all #mufc players since 1939 have come through the youth system! 👏— The MUFC Academy 🐝 (@mrmujac) May 23, 2021
The top-four race had Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester City involved and while it seemed like an easy run for Chelsea, they ended up losing 2-1 to Aston Villa, while the Foxes surrendered to Tottenham, meaning that Liverpool climbed third in the Premier League tally after beating Crystal Palace 2-0.
- Liverpool's last 10 games of the season: 26 points— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) May 23, 2021
- Chelsea's last 10 games of the season: 17 points
- Leicester's last 10 games of the season: 13 points
That's some swing.
Leicester City spent 242 days in the Top 4, the most over any club in league, and finish off in 5th place 🤯 pic.twitter.com/H7fZEbiwIo— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) May 23, 2021
Despite all odds and all the injuries, we still got Top 3! Respect Liverpool, Respect Klopp! #YNWA— Purple Reign (@officialheskay_) May 23, 2021
Gareth Bale and Spurs, thanking you from the bottom of my heart. #ASTCHE— Rohit Benny (@RohitBenny) May 23, 2021
Juventus’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League wasn’t really in their own hands. They needed assistance from their fellow Serie A teams and it came in the form of Verona, who held Napoli to a 1-1 draw. The club from Turin, on the other hand, got the better of Bologna 4-1, resulting in them finishing fourth in the league, only a point above Napoli.
More surprisingly, Juventus lined up without Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portugal captain remained an unused substitute throughout the game.
The Juventus squad when they got to know Napoli have drawn to Verona and they have qualified for the Champions League.pic.twitter.com/KfrcQhVbsc— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) May 23, 2021
16 - AC Milan have set a new all-time record for away wins in a Serie A season: 16 – no side has ever done better in the top-5 European leagues in a single campaign (16 also for Real Madrid 2011/12 and Manchester City 2017/18). Conquering.#AtalantaMilan pic.twitter.com/2BremZWWPJ— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 23, 2021
Meanwhile, seven-time European Champions AC Milan returned to the Champions League by defeating Atalanta 2-0 away from home as they finished second in the tally.
Like the Spanish La Liga, the title race in Ligue 1 went down to the very last day. Lille needed a victory to be crowned champions as anything but that would have clinched the honour. A last-minute goal from Angers’ Angelo Fulgini did give them a scare, but two goals in the first-half were enough for them to seal the league.
A short story: Lille sell Pepe and Gabriel to Arsenal for £95m. Lille use the money to win Ligue 1 for the first time in 10 years. Arsenal finish 8th. pic.twitter.com/DqNMAy10hB— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 23, 2021
Lille conceded just 23 goals in the 2020/2021 Ligue 1 season, fewer than any other side across Europe’s top five leagues.— Ameer Ali Salman 🇵🇸 (@AmeerAliSalman) May 23, 2021
Defence really does win titles.
( Napoli Leicester ) 😂 pic.twitter.com/26pzH1ydwM
How about José Fonte. Rejected by clubs in Portugal, rebuilt his career in lower divisions in England, promoted to EPL at 28, debut with Portugal at 30, European champion at 32, China, and now Ligue 1 champion at 37. What a whirlwind! pic.twitter.com/YEJ7EjJpcT— Rui Miguel Martins (@futebolfactory) May 23, 2021
LILLE HAVE DONE IT.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) May 23, 2021
Neymar this, Mbappé that, and yet it's Burak Yilmaz, Yusuf Yazici, Jonathan David, Renato Sanches, Jonathan Ikone and co who have won Ligue 1.
Simply amazing. Incredible, Incredible story. pic.twitter.com/PtZP4S6onh
😮 Lille supporters are out in full force celebrating the Ligue 1 title 🇫🇷🏆 pic.twitter.com/5W6FaQpUe7— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) May 23, 2021
PSG, on the other hand, finished second, only a point behind Lille.
Featured photo: AFP / Andreas Solaro