There were no twists or turns of the final day for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and entering the game in fourth place thanks to Wednesday night’s 3-0 at Burnley they effectively overcame Crystal Palace without drama to triumph 2-0 thanks to a brace from Sadio Mane.
Unbeaten in their 10 Premier League appearances and winning their last five games, Liverpool actually ended the campaign as they started the previous one, as a top-flight form team and even climbed one place to finish. third.
Here’s how the national media reported on the proceedings as fans returned to Anfield.
From ‘bad champions’ to Klopp’s ‘greatest managerial achievement’ as sideline reaction tells the story
Chris Bascombe, Daily Telegraph
They say the leaderboard never lies. At the very least, sometimes he’s guilty of being frugal with the truth.
Future generations will look at the final standings of this most extraordinary Premier League season, see Liverpool in third and reflect on all that was going on in the Champions League scrap. They have to dig deeper to find the real story.
Just see Jurgen Klopp’s reaction when Sadio Mane doubled his side’s lead over Crystal Palace, effectively securing Liverpool’s place, and it was like eight months of pent-up emotion.
“It seemed impossible,” Klopp said of the pursuit of Champions League football. He had never given up, but for a moment he looked like he was about to.
Let’s not forget, this was a Liverpool team condemned for being “bad champions” three months ago; a Liverpool side who suffered an unprecedented six straight home defeats in mid-season, and a side that was stranded a year ago as the club world champion but looked like they could reappear out of all of them European competitions.
The reasons were many, and one can consider so much the faults of others that Liverpool have somehow recovered to assume a more natural position under Klopp’s leadership.
But that says more about the German’s management and character, navigating his club through dangerous ground despite losing at least two of his captains to Jordan Henderson (half-season) and Virgil Van Dijk ( practically everything).
That’s before we listed countless other occasions when Klopp had more than seven first-team detox regulars, and a few others – including himself – facing personal injury.
Many will wonder if this can really be considered one of Klopp’s greatest managerial achievements. He has the right to decide that.
There were a few moving farewells before the end, Gini Wijnaldum bestowed a guard of honor while Hodgson received generous applause in a stadium that will never bring him the fondest memories.
A month ago, Liverpool thought to say goodbye to Champions League football as well. From what appeared to be the rubble of Liverpool’s defense in the Premier League, Klopp somehow managed to carve out a gem of a final for himself.
Minimal hassle but a monumental effort as the rescue operation is completed
Andy Hunter, the Guardian
Liverpool completed their rescue operation with a minimum of fuss but a monumental effort.
A fifth consecutive Premier League win saw Jurgen Klopp’s side clinch a fifth consecutive Champions League ticket which, despite all the obstacles that have blocked their way this season, have climbed to third place.
No wonder Klopp kissed the Kop when it was all over.
Sadio Mane, embodying Liverpool’s takeover, ended what he called the worst season of his career with two goals that ended Roy Hodgson’s career with Crystal Palace in defeat.
Klopp searched for the former Liverpool and England manager as soon as the final whistle sounded. After a warm embrace, the Liverpool manager returned to his dugout with a series of hand pumps that underscored what this rescue act meant after a punitive campaign on a professional and personal level.
After observing the unwanted complications of qualifying for the Europa League in March, Liverpool maintained their place among Europe’s top elite with a 10-game unbeaten streak that featured eight wins and 26 out of 30 possible points.
Last season’s champions signed as the league winner and in a position that reinforces Klopp’s conviction, Liverpool will challenge again next season once their managers recover from their injury.
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Darkest of winters but Liverpool finish like champions
Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail
No one would ever have predicted that we would be here watching Liverpool make so much noise to finish third in the Premier League. They were our defending champions after all.
But after everything that happened to them this season, it looked like an achievement of sorts.
It took a rare form to get them into the Champions League places and they deserve to be commended for it. The victory earned him eight wins and two draws in 10 closing matches, a race that took Jurgen Klopp’s side from the bleakest of winters to a position of relative respectability.
Liverpool have started and ended this season like champions. They were on top at Christmas, remember. It’s the middle piece that almost did it for them. Thanks to the victory, it can now be seen as a curiosity – one of those things that happens in sports – rather than the disaster that was felt back then.
Regarding this particular afternoon, it was nice to hear and see the fans back at Anfield. They have done their part. In football, Klopp and his players will have been happy not to have experienced any of the tragedies unfolding elsewhere.
Indeed, only twice have Liverpool had problems here. The contest, as it was, lasted 14 minutes.
That was the time it took Crystal Palace to create and miss their only significant chances of the game, one from Wilfried Zaha – placed against the knees of goalkeeper Alisson in the second minute – and a one-on-one planted at away from a post by Andros Townsend. shortly after.
If either had entered, Liverpool might have faltered. They had started the game rather provisionally. But from that point on, Liverpool headed for victory and won thanks to a goal in either half of Sadio Mane.
The elements that marked Liverpool as England’s best last year have come to the fore
Melissa Reddy, independent
They couldn’t be here to drink in the champagne moment, crowning their monster mentality as champions of England. But fans filled Anfield with drunkenness as Liverpool squeezed out every ounce of fight to overcome adversity and cross the finish line of the top four.
After their hellish season, setback after setback, they fought third after a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
This allowed Gini Wijnaldum to say goodbye in a way that characterized his 237 appearances: servant to the team, doing whatever was necessary to get what they wanted.
It was Anfield: color, noise, emotion and appreciation for the effort Jurgen Klopp’s men put in to save a season that seemed completely lost with the silver lining of Champions League football.
There were 10,000 supporters on the terraces cheering on a 10-game unbeaten streak after a 1-0 home loss to Fulham on March 7, which generated 26 out of 30 possible points to reach the Promised Land.
The course was decorated with the unforgettable, like Alisson’s header in the death against West Bromwich Albion, but it was guts that got Liverpool back home.
It was no different in Roy Hodgson’s last game as Palace manager, with the former Reds boss giving a warm send despite lingering resentment over his unambitious tenure here.
At the end of their storm, however, Liverpool could revel in a Champions League-tinted sky.
Ultimately, the elements that marked them as England’s best last outing – resilience, steel, a dedication to dirty work – bubbled up to guide them home.