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LIVERPOOL made sure they will be playing Champions League football next season with a win at home to Brighton.
Mohamed Salah has been the stand-out player in an impressive side assembled by Jurgen Klopp this season and his 32nd goal in this final game saw him break the goalscoring record for a 38-game Premier League season.
Prior to the final round of games, Chelsea had faint hopes of sneaking into the top four, but it was still in the hands of Klopp’s side and they secured their place at Europe’s top table for the second season in a row.
Salah had been quiet early on but needed just one chance to open the scoring. Trent Alexander-Arnold found himself in midfield and drove at the opposition defence before feeding Dominic Solanke. The 20-year-old striker, making a rare start, was able to turn the ball into Salah’s path, and the league’s top scorer made no mistake, finding the bottom corner.
Liverpool had a couple of good shouts for penalties when Shane Duffy handled Alexander-Arnold’s cross and then fouled Salah shortly after, but referee Kevin Friend made himself unpopular with the home crowd by refusing to give either.
In the end, the home side didn’t need the referee’s help as they went on to dominate the game. Sadio Mane took up some good positions and was heavily involved if not always effective. He tried to help Salah add to his already impressive tally, but the chance was denied by a good save from Matthew Ryan.
Ryan could do nothing when Dejan Lovren stormed onto Andy Robertson’s cross to power a header for Liverpool’s second just before half-time. Then, in the opening stages of the second half, Salah returned the favour to Solanke who made it three.
Roberto Firmino looked to get in on the act in the second half, but was twice thwarted by good saves from the impressive Ryan in the Brighton goal. Robertson added a fourth with five minutes to go and the popular Scotsman’s first goal for the club went down well with the Anfield faithful.
Brighton weren’t quite the pushovers the scoreline suggests, but, with their Premier League safety already assured, they had little to play for. Klopp’s players were working not only to secure a place in the top four but also for their places in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in just under two weeks time.
After a few quiet games, Salah’s performance will give him confidence going into the final, while another clean sheet takes Liverpool to 17 for the season. Real Madrid, however, won 6-0 this weekend, so both sides are in top form as they head to Kiev.
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