LONDON: Chelsea blew a two-goal lead in front of prospective owner Todd Boehly as Wolverhampton Wanderers snatched a dramatic 2-2 draw, while Watford were relegated from the Premier League after defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly won the battle to buy Chelsea in a 4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) deal.
Roman Abramovich put the west London club on the market in early March, just days before he was sanctioned by the British government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After a lengthy bidding process involving several groups, Boehly and his fellow investors were picked by Raine Group, the New York bank overseeing the sale.
Boehly’s consortium includes a fellow co-owner of the Dodgers baseball franchise, Mark Walter, Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss and US investment firm Clearlake Capital.
They still need to satisfy the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test and gain approval from the UK government, but Chelsea expect the sale to be completed by the end of the month.
After fears for Chelsea’s future were sparked by the protracted sale, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel welcomed the takeover, saying: “It gives us an outlook if terms are agreed and hopefully the process will be streamlined and go forward as soon as possible. Good news.”
But Tuchel’s third-placed team were unable to celebrate the deal with a victory as they squandered an opportunity to move closer to qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
Romelu Lukaku, who has endured a wretched season following his 97 million club record move from Inter Milan, converted a VAR-awarded penalty after he was fouled by Romain Saiss in the 56th minute.
The Chelsea striker followed his first Premier League goal since December 29 with another two minutes later.
This time he produced a fine 20-yard finish from Christian Pulisic’s cross as Boehly rose from his seat to celebrate.
But Wolves forward Francisco Trincao set up a tense finish when he hammered home from the edge of the area in the 79th minute.
And Chelsea cracked deep into stoppage time as Conor Coady nodded a close-range equaliser to leave Boehly shaking his head in frustration.
Chelsea are six points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who play their game in hand at quadruple-chasing Liverpool later on Saturday.
At Selhurst Park, Watford needed a win to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding the drop, but Wilfried Zaha’s first-half penalty was enough to condemn them to relegation.
With three games still to play, second-bottom Watford are certain to drop into the Championship 12 months after winning promotion as second-tier runners-up.
The Hornets will head into the close-season looking for a new boss after their current manager Roy Hodgson confirmed he would not be extending his short-term contract.
Hodgson, 74, was unable to rescue Watford after replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri in January to become the club’s third manager this term following Xisco’s dismissal in October.
Watford were heading for relegation in the 31st minute when Hassane Kamara handled Michael Olise’s header, conceding a penalty that Zaha converted for his 14th goal this season.
Burnley wasted a chance to boost their survival chances as Aston Villa cruised to a 3-1 victory at Turf Moor.
Caretaker boss Mike Jackson saw Burnley beaten for the first time in five games since replacing the sacked Sean Dyche.
Former Burnley striker Danny Ings put Villa ahead in the seventh minute with a composed finish from Emiliano Buendia’s pass.
Buendia slotted home from Lucas Digne’s cross in the 31st minute.
Ollie Watkins scored Villa’s third with a diving header in the 52nd minute and although Maxwel Cornet struck for the hosts in stoppage time, Burnley sit perilously just two points above the bottom three.
Burnley would be back in the relegation zone if third-bottom Everton beat Leicester City on Sunday and fourth-bottom Leeds United avoid defeat at Arsenal.
Brentford crushed Southampton 3-0 at their Community Stadium, with the goals coming from Pontus Jansson, Yoane Wissa and Kristoffer Ajer.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2022