Champions League, we’re having a laugh

Everton’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle yesterday, coupled with Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool today, clinches fourth place in the English Premier League. This gives Everton the fourth and final English spot in the European Champions League competition (apparently Liverpool will not be awarded that slot even if they win this year’s Champions League competition later this month when they play AC Milan for the crown). Pretty amazing for a team that finished 17th last year (the lowest you can finish without being kicked down to a lower division), and then lost its two best players.
This caps off a great sports weekend for me. On Friday night, the Washington Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls to win their first playoff series since 1982. It’s been much longer than that since Everton played in Europe’s top competition. We were twice denied that right in the 1980s because, although we won the league championship, English teams were barred due to the deadly violence perpetrated by Liverpool supporters. We were also a top side during the 1960s, but that was before I was a soccer fan, and I don’t know whether we played in Europe at that time.
As a result of their victory, the Wizards get to play in Miami. Everton’s success probably means a trip to Iceland, Georgia, Finland, or such in order to qualify for the major stage of the competition. But it will seem like nirvana to us.


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