Liverpool held off a Christian Pulisic-inspired comeback as the runaway Premier League champions overcame Chelsea 5-3 ahead of the trophy presentation at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s title winners got into the party spirit as they were involved in an eight-goal thriller on Merseyside in their final home game of an unforgettable season, though there was little sign of the drama to come when they led 4-1.
Naby Keita’s right-footed rocket opened the scoring, while there was a long-awaited home goal for Roberto Firmino – his first in the league since March 2019 – early in the second half.
The impressive Pulisic helped the Blues battle back to 4-3, raising hopes of clinching the draw they required to make certain of a top-four finish, but Liverpool had the last word, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slamming home to secure the win.
Liverpool had laboured since crossing the line yet appeared hungry to mark this occasion by producing something special.
Their opener demonstrated one of the key traits that has helped end the 30-year wait to reign again, Keita gaining possession as the hosts pressed high before unleashing a rasping shot that flashed beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A debatable foul call by referee Andre Marriner offered Trent Alexander-Arnold the opportunity to curl in a second goal with a glorious a free-kick, while the visitors’ set-piece woes continued when their failure to deal with a corner allowed Georginio Wijnaldum to smash the loose ball in.
Chelsea pulled one back when Olivier Giroud reacted quickly to stab home from close range before half-time, but the game seemed up when Firmino finally ended his drought by heading home Alexander-Arnold’s inviting cross.
Pulisic had other ideas, though. The United States international slalomed through to set up fellow substitute Tammy Abraham for a tap-in finish, then reduced the deficit to one by swivelling inside the penalty area and firing into the roof of the net.
Klopp made changes to try and stem the tide and it was one of his substitutes who ended Chelsea’s hopes, Oxlade-Chamberlain arriving at the back post to provide the finish to Andy Robertson’s delivery.
What does it mean? Reds sign off in style
Lifting the trophy inside an empty Anfield may not be the way Liverpool’s players and staff imagined the moment finally happening, but this was an old-school Klopp performance to mark the celebrations.
This was heavy metal football played out inside an empty stadium, the two teams going at each other in a gripping contest. Chelsea made plenty of noise themselves, though they had to accept being the supporting act on the main stage.
Keita shows further positive signs
The opening goal was an eye-catching strike from Keita, who once again demonstrated that – when fit, as has not often been the case since his arrival – the Guinea international can be a key contributor to a squad that may not see any major new arrivals in the next window.
Little case for the defence
Chelsea have managed just one clean sheet on their travels in the league this term. For all the excitement over the arrivals of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, and the continued talk of a move for Kai Havertz, the defensive deficiencies will continue to undermine their progress until suitably fixed.
Key Opta Facts
– Liverpool have amassed 55 points from the 57 available to them at Anfield in this season’s Premier League (P19 W18 D1 L0), the joint-most any side has earned at home in a campaign in the competition (alongside Chelsea in 2005-06, Manchester United in 2010-11 and Manchester City in 2011-12).
– Only Aston Villa (0) have kept fewer clean sheets away from home than Chelsea (1) in this season’s Premier League; indeed, this is Chelsea’s outright lowest number of shutouts away from home in a single campaign.
– This was the first Premier League game at Anfield to see as many as eight goals scored since Liverpool’s 4-4 draw with Arsenal in April 2009.
– Mohamed Salah is the only Liverpool player to reach 10+ goals and 10+ assists in two separate Premier League seasons (also 2017-18).
– Firmino scored his first Premier League goal at Anfield in 20 appearances, ending a run of 1,591 minutes of play and 56 attempted shots without scoring at the ground since he netted against Tottenham in March 2019, 479 days ago.
Liverpool will aim to finish a memorable campaign on a winning note when they travel to Newcastle United on Sunday, while Chelsea have a final-day meeting with Wolves at Stamford Bridge.