Fitting finale for Anfield stars

Skipper Jordan Henderson (centre) and teammates cheering with the Premier League trophy after the presentation at Anfield on Wednesday. Top: The Premier League trophy is manager Jurgen Klopp's fourth with Liverpool in a year after the Uefa Super Cup,
Skipper Jordan Henderson (centre) and teammates cheering with the Premier League trophy after the presentation at Anfield on Wednesday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Skipper Jordan Henderson (centre) and teammates cheering with the Premier League trophy after the presentation at Anfield on Wednesday. Top: The Premier League trophy is manager Jurgen Klopp's fourth with Liverpool in a year after the Uefa Super Cup,
The Premier League trophy is manager Jurgen Klopp's fourth with Liverpool in a year after the Uefa Super Cup, Champions League and Club World Cup.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Skipper Jordan Henderson (centre) and teammates cheering with the Premier League trophy after the presentation at Anfield on Wednesday. Top: The Premier League trophy is manager Jurgen Klopp's fourth with Liverpool in a year after the Uefa Super Cup,
Above: Home fans in jubilant mood outside Anfield.PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool mark celebration with unbeaten home streak; relish 'big challenge' ahead

LONDON • When Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifted the Premier League trophy on Wednesday, Coldplay's A Sky Full Of Stars rang out at Anfield.

The players made the song choice long before fireworks on the pitch preceded those that lit up the Merseyside sky after a 5-3 win over Chelsea in their last home game of the season.

Despite pleas for them to stay away, supporters crowded around the stadium even before kick-off to stage their own celebration.

On the field, Jurgen Klopp's men ensured they ended on a high note after just two wins in five previous games since they clinched a first English top-flight title in 30 years.

Sweet first-half strikes from Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum put the hosts in command.

After the break, Roberto Firmino scored his first league goal at Anfield all season. The Brazilian's header ended a run of 1,591 minutes of play and 56 attempted shots without scoring at the ground since netting against Tottenham 479 days ago.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then ensured Chelsea's comeback fell short following goals from Olivier Giroud and substitutes Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic.

"It's been a journey and to finish it off like this is really special," said the injured Henderson, who watched from the sidelines.

"After this, next season is going to be a big challenge for us. But I thought tonight we showed the mentality to come and perform again and get the result we did."

Their first Premier League title had been sealed almost a month ago with seven games remaining, following a three-month stoppage because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While fans missed out on a momentous night at the 53,000-capacity Anfield, Klopp was grateful the players' family members could join in the muted celebration.

"You make the best of what you can," the German told Sky Sports after his side remained unbeaten at home in the league for three straight seasons - a run of 59 games. "It means the world to me... I couldn't be happier to be honest, it would be perfect if the stadium would be full but we cannot change it."

Liverpool also beat Chelsea to lift the Uefa Super Cup at the start of the season to go with the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup, but Klopp said that their rivals will look to close the gap.

NEW HEIGHTS TO SCALE

We're champions of England, of Europe and the world... It's unbelievable, to be honest. We'll not stop. We have internal challenges and each player can improve.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on the challenges their rivals will pose next season.

"We're champions of England, of Europe and the world... It's unbelievable, to be honest. We'll not stop. We have internal challenges and each player can improve."

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard suggested some of the Reds need to work on their humility after an exchange with the rivals' bench following a free kick that was awarded against Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic, leading to Alexander-Arnold's goal.

"For me, it wasn't a foul from Kovacic," Lampard said. "There were a lot of things that were ongoing and on the bench... Some of the bench, it's a fine line between when you are winning... but also don't get too arrogant with it."

The result saw Chelsea slipping to fourth on 63 points, trailing Manchester United on goal difference.

Lampard's side need a point from their final match on Sunday against Wolverhampton to seal a place in next season's Champions League.

"It's huge, we know the situation. It's in our hands to get a result against a very good Wolves team."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2020, with the headline 'Fitting finale for Anfield stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe