Liverpool qualify for the Champions League as Arsenal miss out
Liverpool are back in the Champions League after they beat Middlesbrough 3-0 at Anfield and in the process doomed Arsenal to the Europa League next season.
Heading into the final game of the season, Arsenal had to win their game against Everton and hope Liverpool dropped points against the already relegated Middlesborough to qualify for the Champions League. However, Liverpool pulled through and emerged as 3-0 winners and finished in the fourth Champions League spot despite Arsenal also winning Everton 3-1.
It was a nervy first half for Liverpool as they struggled to break through the Middlesbrough defence. Middlesbrough even had a penalty shout waved away by the referee in the 23rd minute as Dejan Lovren bundled over Patrick Bamford in the box. Replays showed that Lovren had indeed tripped the Middlesbrough striker and was lucky to escape.
At this point, Arsenal were already cruising 2-0 against Everton following goals from Hector Bellerin and Alexis Sanchez and were in the fourth position. However, Laurent Koscielny received a straight red after his clumsy and unnecessary two-footed challenge on Enner Valencia. The defender will miss the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Liverpool, though, took the lead in first-half injury time. Firminio played in Wijnaldum whose brilliant first touch was followed by a belter of a shot into the top corner. Jurgen Klopp's reaction was of absolute relieve and the goal settled some nerves in the stadium.
In the space of 10 second-half minutes, the game was done and dusted as Coutinho scored with a sublime free kick before Adam Lallana slotted home from close range after some poor defending by Middlesbrough to make it 3-0. Arsenal rounded off their game winning 3-1, but it was Liverpool who took the coveted fourth spot to qualify for Europe's elite competition next season.
The result will further put Arsene Wenger's future in doubt as his lack of improvements are now costing the club earnings from Champions League qualification. It remains to be seen if he will lead Arsenal into the Europa League next season.
A delighted Jurgen Klopp spoke in the post-match interview, "That was the maximum we can achieve and we did it. It feels outstandingly good at this moment."
"We deserve this position, 76 points is an outstanding number."
Klopp rounded off the interview by showing his ambitions for the Champions League, saying, "Usually at the end of a season you're kind of tired, but I could start tomorrow because I'm already really looking forward to it."