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‘Everyone has a chance’ – Mourinho says Champions League race is wide open after Man City ban

The Spurs boss believes a host of clubs have now joined the race for a spot in Europe next season

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says “everyone has a chance” to qualify for the Champions League after Manchester City’s European ban blew the race for a top-five finish wide open.

The football world is still reeling at UEFA’s decision to hit City with a two-year ban from European competition and a €30 million (£25m/$33m) fine for a “serious” breach of Financial Fair Play rules.

The Premier League champions intend to appeal the decision but, as things stand, their exclusion effectively means an extra European place has opened up to the rest of the division.

With Pep Guardiola’s side likely to finish in the top four, a fifth-place finish will secure Champions League football next season.

Tottenham currently occupy that position after Son Heung-min’s stoppage-time goal earned them a 3-2 win against Aston Villa on Sunday. However, just six points separate the north London club in fifth with Burnley in 10th.

Mourinho accepts that City’s European ban has presented his side with a huge opportunity, but says a number of clubs will be feeling the same way.

“[It’s] not just for us. A window opens for many teams,” Mourinho told BBC Sport. “What seemed far, now the fifth place is not far. Arsenal, Everton, Sheffield United, Wolves… everyone will feel they have the chance.”

Reflecting on Sunday’s result, Mourinho praised Aston Villa for their battling display in the Midlands.

Villa led early on courtesy of Toby Alderweireld’s own goal but the Belgian soon scored at the right end to bring the visitors level.

Son then put Spurs in front shortly before half-time, scoring on the rebound after his penalty had been saved by Pepe Reina.

Bjorn Engels headed Dean Smith’s side level after the break and they looked set for a hard-earned point before Engels’ error allowed Son through on goal to score a stoppage-time winner,

“I thought we deserved to win but I think they did not deserve to lose. Villa played to win,” said Mourinho.

When asked about Tottenham’s penalty, which was awarded for a foul by Engels on Steven Bergwijn following a VAR check, Mourinho added: “Steven Bergwijn, I don’t know if I call him naive, or too honest – the referees tell us: ‘pre-match don’t ask for anything, don’t surround me, don’t do the motion of the screen’.

“The action was there and it was a question of to be or not to be and clearly it was.”

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