Aston Villa secure Champions League spot to end 41-year wait after Spurs’ loss

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Aston Villa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Aston Villa</a> can look forward to Champions League football next season.</span><span>Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images</span>

Aston Villa have qualified for the Champions League after Tottenham’s defeat at home against Manchester City on Tuesday night. The result confirms that Villa will finish fourth and take the final place on offer to an English club.

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Villa last played in the tournament, known then as the European Cup, in the 1982-83 season, when they were knocked out by Juventus in the quarter-finals. They had qualified as the holders after beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in the 1982 final in Rotterdam thanks to a Peter Withe goal.

Unai Emery’s side have rarely been out of the top four since late November and although their form has dipped over recent weeks that brought an exit from the Europa Conference League and two draws and a defeat from their past three league matches, they will go into Sunday’s final game at Crystal Palace knowing they cannot be overhauled by fifth-placed Spurs.

Qualification for the Champions League underlines the transformative effect Emery has had since he started work as Steven Gerrard’s successor in November 2022. Villa were then in relegation danger but the manager steered them to seventh and has bettered that in his second season.

On Monday Villa were staring at a home defeat by Liverpool until two late Jhon Durán goals secured a 3-3 draw. Strong home form has underpinned Villa’s success, bringing 40 of their 68 points, although they also have the fourth-best away record in the division.

The Champions League grows from 32 to 36 teams next season, with results from eight rounds of fixtures in the league phase – each team will face eight opponents, four at home, four away – forming a table. From there, the top eight teams will go through to the round of 16 and 16 more will play off to complete the knockout lineup.