Manchester United secured their place in next season’s Champions League, beating fellow top-four rivals Leicester City 2-0 in a crucial final-day encounter at the King Power stadium.
United came into the game knowing a point would be enough to finish inside the top four, though defeat would have almost certainly seen them narrowly miss out, a scenario which led to a nervy-looking display in the first half, with neither side seemingly willing to overcommit.
However, the Red Devils were awarded a Premier League record 14th penalty of the season in the 70th minute, Mason Greenwood winning the ball back high up the field, before setting Anthony Martial free through the middle, the Frenchman being brought down in the box by the double challenge of Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans. VAR inevitably took a look, before Bruno Fernandes stepped up to score the latest spot-kick of his fledgeling Premier League career, despite the Portuguese having an otherwise off-colour performance.
With Chelsea comfortably winning their game against Wolves, Leicester knew they needed a win to clinch a top-four finish, but they were unable to break down United’s backline and saw Jonny Evans shown a straight red for a robust, over-the-ball challenge on Scott McTominay in the 94th minute.
United rounded off the victory deep into stoppage time when substitute Jesse Lingard caught Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel on the ball before rolling it into an empty net to secure their return to Europe’s elite competition.
The Old Trafford outfit has successfully overturned a once 14 point deficit to the Foxes to finish third, and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was understandably proud after seeing his side finish their league campaign with a 13 game unbeaten run.
“I’m delighted. We’ve achieved a Champions League spot, we’ve come from way, way behind teams and gone past them,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport.
”We’ve shown that we’ve got the consistency, the right mentality. We’re building a group and a performance culture here that we can be proud of.
“I told the boys that no matter what happened today, we’ve won. The players have shown their qualities as a group. They’ve taken on board what we want and they’re looking more and more like a Manchester United team on the pitch. The environment there is so much better than it was before.”
United now have a short break, before returning to action next month in their pursuit of European glory, Solskjaer’s side 5-0 up in their Europa League last 16 tie against Austrian side LASK.