Liverpool salvaged Champions League football from a chaotic season undermined by a succession of serious injuries and a catastrophic run of home form after the turn of the year with victory over Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side never threatened to retain their Premier League title and fell timidly to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final but Liverpool rallied to win their final five Premier League games – including that remarkable last-gasp header by keeper Alisson at West Bromwich Albion – to claim a prize that looked unlikely since the turn of the year.
Liverpool got the result they needed against Palace, with manager Roy Hodgson taking charge for the final time, as Sadio Mane poked home from a corner nine minutes before half-time to ease early anxieties.
The Senegal forward wrapped up victory and that coveted Champions League place with a deflected shot in the 74th minute.
Andros Townsend gave Liverpool, playing in front of 10,000 returning supporters, an early scare when he raced clear only to shoot off target before Liverpool took control – with Leicester and Chelsea’s results meaning they finished in a creditable third given their injury problems.
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- 66Alexander-ArnoldBooked at 71mins
- 46R Williams
- 26RobertsonSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 90+2′minutes
- 6Thiago AlcÃ¡ntara
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forMilnerat 78′minutesBooked at 86mins
- 9FirminoSubstituted forJotaat 90+1′minutes
- 76N Williams
- 5TomkinsSubstituted forSchluppat 58′minutes
- 8KouyatÃ©Substituted forKellyat 89′minutes
- 22McCarthySubstituted forvan Aanholtat 88′minutes
- 44RiedewaldBooked at 83mins
- 9J AyewBooked at 71mins
- 3van Aanholt
Match ends, Liverpool 2, Crystal Palace 0.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 2, Crystal Palace 0.
Substitution, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Andrew Robertson.
Substitution, Liverpool. Diogo Jota replaces Roberto Firmino.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Martin Kelly replaces Cheikhou KouyatÃ© because of an injury.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Patrick van Aanholt replaces James McCarthy.
Attempt saved. Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross.
James Milner (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).
Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Vicente Guaita.
Attempt saved. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tyrick Mitchell.
Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Thiago (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Roberto Firmino.
Foul by Thiago (Liverpool).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.