Liverpool clinched a top-four spot after a 3-0 win against Middlesbrough in their final Premier League encounter at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Jurgen Klopp made one change to the side that defeated West Ham in their penultimate league tie, opting for Roberto Firmino in place of Divick Origi.
The home side started like a house on fire and made their intentions known within 30 seconds of the game, as Firmino forced Guzan into a save inside the first 30 seconds of the tie.
Liverpool dominated possession stakes, but struggled to find gaps in the final third, which saw Daniel Sturridge dropping deep to collect the ball.
Boro were denied a penalty shout in the 22nd minute when Patrick Bamford wriggled his way in behind Dejan Lovren, before being muscled to the ground, but the referee waved play-on.
Liverpool found the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time when Firmino’s enticing ball to Georginio Wijnaldum was smacked in at the near post, giving Guzan no chance.
Philippe Coutinho produced an individual piece of magic with a low-struck free kick to double his sides advantage in the 51st minute.
Klopp’s side all but guaranteed their spot in the Champions League next season when Adam Lallana got in on the goals in the 56th minute, after a breathtakingly quick breakaway from a Boro corner.
Liverpool continued to probe, and at a point looked capable of scoring with every attack, but their three goals were enough to seal an emphatic victory which will ensure them a Champions League spot next season.
Meanwhile, champions Chelsea defeated Sunderland 5-1 at Stamford Bridge with goals by Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro, and Michy Batshuayi netting a brace after Javier Manquillo’s early strike.
Swansea defeated West Brom 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium, with Jordan Ayew and Fernando Llorente netting after Jonny Evans’ early strike.
Hull were condemned to a 7-1 loss against Tottenham Hotspurs with Harry Kane netting a hat-trick in addition to strikes by Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld.
Manchester United defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 after Jose Mourinho fielded the youngest starting XI ever in Premier League history, with Josh Harrop and Paul Pogba.
Photo: Premier League
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