Scotland star closes in on first-ever Champions League qualification as dramatic night impacts on ex-Celtic boss

Race for top four in Premier League set for thrilling climax

John McGinn moved a step closer to securing a first-ever Champions League qualification with Aston Villa after his side came from two goals down in the final five minutes to claim a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Villa Park.

The Scotland midfielder came through a dramatic 90 minutes unscathed on a night where his international skipper and team-mate Andy Robertson sat out for the visitors due to a minor niggle that is not expected to keep him out of Liverpool’s final match of the season against Wolves on Saturday.

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Jhon Duran was the hero for Villa, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes to earna point which means the Birmingham-based outfit will be guaranteed a top-four spot if Tottenham fail to beat Manchester City on Tuesday night.

Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

If Spurs win, their fate will go down to the final day where Villa travel to an in-form Crystal Palace while Ange Postecoglou’s side visit already-relegated Sheffield United with the former Celtic boss looking to secure a top four finish in his first season in the Premier League.

If Villa can secure a Champions League spot it will be a huge boost for club captain McGinn, the former Hibs midfielder, ahead of joining up with the Scotland squad later this month ahead of Euro 2024 in Germany.

“It’s a brilliant effort towards the end,” McGinn told Sky Sports. “We got a bit of luck. It’s been a tough few weeks with lads coming back and playing through the pain barrier.

“There’s some of us that have never been close to the Champions League in our life. The manager has a no-excuse mentality. People have written us off and we’ve floated under the radar. We’ll have our Man City tops on tomorrow.”

Villa looked dead and buried as Emiliano Martinez’s astonishing gaffe handed the Reds a second-minute goal, which was cancelled out by Youri Tielemans, before strikes from Cody Gakpo and Jarell Quansah put them 3-1 up in Jurgen Klopp’s final away game in charge.

But Duran climbed off the bench to score twice in four minutes and put Villa on the brink of qualification for the Champions League for the first time.

For Klopp, who was disgusted at his side’s late collapse, all roads now lead to Anfield where he will end his nine-year stint as Liverpool boss on what will surely be an emotional farewell against Wolves.

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