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    Liverpool 4-0 Brighton Match Report


    Liverpool confirmed their qualification for next season's Champions League after producing a dominant performance at Anfield to see off the challenge of Brighton.

    The Reds only needed a point to guarantee a top-four position but fifth-place Chelsea were unable to put any pressure on Jurgen Klopp's side as they suffered a 3-0 loss at St James' Park to mid-table Newcastle.

    Liverpool started the match at a high tempo and would have taken an early lead had it not been for Mat Ryan, whose close-range save from Sadio Mane was the first of many throughout the afternoon.

    Brighton's resistance lasted a total of 26 minutes and it was little surprise when top-scorer Mohamed Salah fired the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal from 12 yards out to give his side a deserved lead.

    It was the PFA Player of the Year's 32nd goal of an unforgettable season, which has earned him the Golden Boot for finishing as the Premier League's highest scorer for the 2017-18 campaign.

    The opening goal threatened to open the floodgates as Liverpool streamed forward with a flurry of attacks but they faced the unenviable task of finding a way past an inspired Ryan in the Brighton goal.

    The former Valencia stopper made a smothering save at the feet of Salah to deny the Egyptian what looked like a certain goal, while Shane Duffy made a miraculous goal-line clearance to prevent Salah's improvised strike from finding its target.

    Wijnaldum was once again thwarted by Australian international Ryan after he was found by Mane's pinpoint pass, and Firmino was also presented with a gilt-edged opportunity from 10 yards out but somehow managed to fire over the bar.

    Such was Liverpool's dominance that they continued to create clear-cut chances so it was not surprising when they doubled their lead on 39 minutes courtesy of a rare Dejan Lovren effort.

    The Croatian defender towered above Gaetan Bong in the penalty area and duly produced a powerful header from Andrew Robertson's floated cross, giving a flat-footed Ryan no chance in the Brighton goal

    Liverpool continued their relentless march towards a top-four spot after the break and Dominic Solanke, who was playing instead of the injured James Milner, was even afforded the luxury of opening his Reds account on his 27th appearance.

    The young striker produced a thunderous effort to beat Ryan from 12 yards out, with the ball flying into the roof of the net after Salah's cleverly-weighted pass had created the opportunity.
     
    Firmino almost made the scoreline even more one-sided in Liverpool's favour after he was also discovered by another Salah through-ball but uncharacteristically lacked the conviction to beat Ryan, who tipped the effort over the crossbar.
     
    Liverpool did eventually score a fourth goal with just five minutes remaining to complete an emphatic victory, with Robertson rifling home from 10 yards out after Lewis Dunk had cleared the ball straight into his path.

    The Reds finished the campaign in fourth-place, the same position as last season albeit having collected one point fewer, while fifth-place Chelsea must now be content with a place in next season's Europa League.

    After a nervy opening 25 minutes, the result was never in doubt once Salah had finally given his side a vital breakthrough and the scoreline could have been even more convincing had it not been for the heroics of Ryan.

    Salah also became the first player to score 32 goals in a single Premier League season, overtaking the record jointly held by Alan Shearer in 1995-96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007-08 and Luis Suarez in 2013-14.

    Jurgen Klopp's side now are able to fully focus on their Champions League showdown against reigning European champions Real Madrid on May 26, which is the club's first final in the competition for 11 years.

    Brighton, meanwhile, were no match for Liverpool on the day but can be proud of what they achieved in their first season back in the top flight since 1982-83, finishing the campaign in 15th position.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 4-0 Brighton Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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