Awoniyi emerged to produce this week’s big positive, netting a late winner off the bench to hand NEC Nijmegen a crucial 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar.
Manager Peter Hyballa turned to Awoniyi to make the difference with just seven minutes left with NEC held at 1-1 but needing victory as they desperately fight relegation from the top-flight – and the striker made the perfect impact.
Taking up a clever position between two Alkmaar defenders in the box, Awoniyi rose to meet a brilliant cross delivered from the left and powered home a header from six-yards out.
The teenager was then booked for removing his shirt in wild celebrations, but after scoring his first ‘proper’ goal this season – the other dubiously awarded to him back in October – he will not have cared one bit.
While great day for Awoniyi, it was a sad one for Chirivella who suffered relegation with Go Ahead Eagles after a 4-0 thrashing at Ajax.
The Spaniard played all 90 minutes of the disastrous loss in centre-midfield, but he was largely ineffective as the Eagles – who were reduced to 10-men in the second-half – were condemned to the second tier by the title chasers.
On home soil, there was disappointment for Danny Ward who received a costly red card in Huddersfield’s final day 3-0 loss to Cardiff City.
Moments after almost claiming an assist with a brilliant long pass, Ward was sent off with just 20 minutes gone – by which time his team were already 1-0 down – for handling outside the box and denying a clear goal-scoring chance.
The Welshman is now set to miss the first-leg of Huddersfield’s impending play-off campaign against Sheffield Wednesday as David Wagner’s side seek promotion to the Premier League.
Kent finished the season in the left-wing role he made his own at Oakwell, but he was unable to sign off with the performance wanted despite some bright moments, with his influence restricted in a game Benitez’s side dominated.
Kent – who will hope to have convinced Klopp he can play a role at Anfield – claimed three goals and assists in 46 appearances in all competitions, as Barnsley finished 14th in the table.
In the National League, Jack Dunn played a part – albeit a small one – in helping Tranmere reach Wembley where they will contest the play-off final against Forest Green Rovers.
Dunn played the closing stages of the 3-0 semi-final first-leg win over Aldershot, helping to see out the game late on, before being an unused substitute in the 2-2 second-leg draw which sealed a 5-2 aggregate success.
— Jack Dunn ??? (@Jack_Dunn8) May 6, 2017
Dunn will hope to feature in more prominently in the final showdown on May 14, as Tranmere seek promotion back to Football League.
Also in the lower leagues, Cameron Brannagan’s spell at League One Fleetwood came to an underwhelming end, with the midfielder playing just 20 minutes of the Cod Army’s short-lived play-off campaign.
After being an unused substitute in the 1-0 first-leg loss to Bradford City, Brannagan featured in the second-leg but was unable to inspire his side to overturn the deficit, with a goalless draw condemning Fleetwood to a semi-final exit.
The 1-0 loss ends a largely frustrating spell for Brannagan, who claimed a solitary assist in 13 appearances, just of five of which were starts.
A costly afternoon for the Tigers saw Markovic produce one of his less influential displays, but he was still one of the brighter performers in his 65-minute outing as he nearly opened the scoring, only to see his bullet header superbly kept out.
Back on the continent, Andre Wisdom was denied Austrian Bundesliga title glory as Red Bull Salzburg suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Mattersburg.
Wisdom completed a seventh straight league 90 minutes at centre-back, but wasn’t as assured as usual at the heart of defence despite not being at fault for either goal, as his side’s superb 18-game unbeaten run came to an end.
In the German Bundesliga, Allan Rodrigues dropped to Hertha Berlin’s bench after three consecutive starts, but featured as a second-half substitute in a 4-1 loss to RB Leipzig.
Allan entered for the final 25 minutes with his side 2-0 down but he couldn’t inspire his side to mount a comeback, also playing a part in Leipzig’s third goal with some poor defending.
Required to defend one-against-one on the counter-attack, Allan was beaten too easily as he went to ground, allowing David Selke to skip round him and score a third goal to seal victory for the visitors.
Finally, in the MLS, Brooks Lennon endured an unrewarding outing as Real Salt Lake lost 3-0 to FC Dallas.
Lennon played all 90 minutes from a wide-right role and was in determined form as he tried to carry the fight with three shots and two key passes, but his efforts ultimately proved in vein.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Week
- Markovic – Hull – Played 65mins vs. Sunderland
- Flanagan – Burnley – Unused sub vs. West Brom
- Ward – Huddersfield – Played 20mins due to being sent off vs. Cardiff City
- Kent – Barnsley – Played 74mins vs. Newcastle
- Wisdom – Red Bull Salzburg – Played 90mins vs. Mattersburg
- Chirivella – Go Ahead Eagles – Played 90mins, suffering relegation vs. Ajax
- Allan – Hertha Berlin – Played 25mins vs. Leipzig
- Lennon – Real Salt Lake – Played 90mins vs. Dallas
- Awoniyi – NEC Nijmegen – Played 7mins and scored vs. AZ Alkmaar
- Brannagan – Fleetwood – Played 20mins of play-off semi-final games vs. Bradford
- Dunn – Tranmere – Played 5mins of play-off semi-final games vs. Aldershot