Liverpool 3-0 Middlesbrough: Reds book Champions League place in style at Anfield

21 May 2017

Liverpool produced a fine display in a 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon, securing a place in next season’s Champions League.


Liverpool 3-0 Middlesbrough

Premier League, Anfield
May 21, 2017

Goals

Wijnaldum 45+1′ (assist – Firmino)
Coutinho 51′ (assist – Sturridge)
Lallana 56′ (assist – Wijnaldum)


The Reds took to Anfield safe in the knowledge that three points over relegated Middlesbrough would seal a top-four finish.

With Man City and Arsenal also vying for two places on the final day of the Premier League campaign, all eyes were on Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side in control of their fate.

The German was buoyed by the previous weekend’s 4-0 victory away to West Ham, and as a result only made one change to the side that triumphed at the Olympic Stadium.

Anfield was poised for a tantalising clash as the season reached its climax, with Liverpool heavy favourites, and they certainly lived up to the billing.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 21, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Middlesbrough during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes one change as Firmino comes back in
  • Wijnaldum nets on stroke of half-time after shaky start
  • Coutinho scores immaculate free-kick to increase the lead
  • Lallana drives home on the break to ensure dominance at Anfield
  • Liverpool seal place in next season’s Champions League

The Reds looked to get out the blocks quickly at Anfield, with Klopp retaining the diamond shape that proved so effective in east London, and Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne both had good chances in the opening stages.

With both Arsenal and Man City taking the lead early on against Everton and Watford respectively, the pressure was immediately on Klopp’s side.

Liverpool continued to probe against a resolute, busy Middlesbrough defence, and Daniel Sturridge came close after turning in the box on 33 minutes, sending his right-footed shot just wide.

The atmosphere suffered as the half went on, with Boro holding firm and the Reds lacking inspiration, while struggling to contend with the away side’s rare breaks on the counter.

But when it fell to Georginio Wijnaldum, who had otherwise endured a disappointing half, the Netherlands midfielder made it count, rifling home after a one-two on the cusp of half-time.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 21, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia scores the second goal against Middlesbrough during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a difficult first half, the floodgates well and truly opened, as Liverpool enjoyed dominance from the restart, finding form at the perfect time.

First up, with Sturridge fouled 25 yards out, Philippe Coutinho stepped up to curl a right-footed free-kick beyond Brad Guzan into the bottom corner, sending the Anfield crowd into raptures.

It wasn’t long before the Reds had their third of the afternoon, with Adam Lallana spurring a powerful break, and after a sloppy initial pass, kept it alive to drive home to make it 3-0.

Wijnaldum went close to adding another after a beautiful combination with Lallana, but couldn’t find his foot on the volley, with Sturridge and Firmino continuing to prowl in search of a goal of their own.

This unassailable lead allowed Klopp to utilise his substitutes, sending on Lucas Leiva and Alberto Moreno for what could be their last games in a Liverpool shirt.

And what a game to end on, as the Reds sealed their place in next season’s Champions League in style.


TIA Man of the Match: Philippe Coutinho

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner (Moreno 86′); Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Lallana; Sturridge (Origi 82′), Firmino (Lucas 79′)

Subs not used: Karius, Klavan, Alexander-Arnold, Grujic

Middlesbrough: Guzan; Fabio (Ayala 73′), Chambers, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter, Forshaw; Downing, Bamford, Gestede (Negredo 73′)

Subs not used: Dimi, Bernardo, De Roon, Fischer, Stuani

Next match: Sydney FC (A) – Friendly – May 24

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