LONDON (REUTERS) - The battle for the top four in the Premier League may go to the final day after Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday by Stoke City whose point may not be enough in their own scrap against relegation.
With Liverpool still to visit Chelsea, who trail them by nine points with two games in hand, Jurgen Klopp's side may have to beat Brighton & Hove Albion on May 13 and rely on their superior goal difference to qualify for the Champions League, assuming they do not secure it by winning this year's trophy.
On paper, Saturday's game looked a mis-match, pitting the only team unbeaten at home in England's top four divisions against the side with the worst away record.
But a Liverpool side with five changes from their starting XI at home to AS Roma in the Champions League semi-final, first leg win lacked their usual intensity and even Mo Salah fluffed a chance almost identical to one he had buried in midweek.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was later substituted after complaining of an injury, also scuffed a shot on the six-yard line while Danny Ings had a goal disallowed for offside.
A dramatic finish saw Liverpool denied a penalty when Erik Pieters handled, while Ryan Shawcross almost snatched what would have been a first league win at Anfield for Stoke, who are now three points below the safety zone with two games left.