Liverpool’s lap of honour was accompanied by the FA and Carabao Cups, as well as an unmistakable sense of melancholy.
They were so close on the last day and could not have done more to deliver title number 20 and the domestic triple. Jürgen Klopp‘s former favourite from his time at Borussia Dortmund kept it out of reach.
Anfield dared to dream of an unprecedented quadruple and an incredible end to the Premier League season until a minor eruption in the stadium’s corner in the 81st minute. Wolves fans broke the news of Manchester City’s late winner against Aston Villa and Liverpool’s agony.
“With all the things that happened I would have preferred them to be 5-0 up after 10 minutes to be honest,” Klopp stated.
With the win, Klopp’s squad finished the season with the only unbeaten home record in the Premier League and a stunning 92 points. In 24 of the previous 29 seasons, that would have been enough to win the league. It is the third greatest points total in Liverpool history and the fourth when the 42-game 1978-79 season is converted to three points for a win.
The fact that the other three have arrived in the last four seasons emphasises the magnitude of the work required to challenge or dethrone City. It was 2019 all over again, although this time City’s comeback made the final day even more difficult for their main rivals. With Thiago Alcântara limping through the lap of honour with a serious-looking injury and Divock Origi already ruled out with a muscle complaint, Klopp’s disappointment was not limited to the final league table.
From the start, Anfield promised a crazy ride. Thousands lined Anfield Road to greet the Liverpool team coach before kickoff, and the atmosphere was electric as Klopp’s players emerged for the warmup, more in hope than expectation at the time. When Pedro Neto put the visitors ahead in the third minute, Anfield fell silent.
The potential of Wolves earning points from Liverpool was rarely mentioned in the final day storyline, despite the fact that Wolves had lost eight of their previous 13 Premier League games. However, the hosts were rudely awakened after switching off during a José Sá goal-kick.
Ibrahima Konaté misjudged the flight of the Wolves keeper’s clearance, and the ball soared through to unleash Ral Jiménez, who looked across to see Neto running into the area unnoticed and centering for his strike partner to convert past Alisson. In the process, the Liverpool goalkeeper was denied a club record-equaling 21st clean sheet of the season, but he eventually shared the Golden Gloves prize with Ederson on 20.
Liverpool replied with an enthusiastic, threatening display, albeit with Virgil van Dijk, who was named to the bench alongside Salah, appearing uneasy in centre defence. They were especially vulnerable to Ruben Neves’s strategy of sweeping first time passes out to Neto on the left at every opportunity.
Joel Matip, Luis Daz, and Naby Keita all had chances to equalise, but Leander Dendoncker could have extended the visitors’ lead when Neto found him at the near post. Dendoncker discovered the Kop rather than the target.
Then it shifted. Neto, a frequent thorn in Liverpool’s defence, was injured and replaced by Hwang Hee-chan. Thiago’s fantastic piece of skill equalised Liverpool two minutes later. Thiago unlocked the Wolves’ defence with a first-time reverse flick through Willy Boly’s legs after receiving Konaté’s pass with his back to goal. Sadio Mané was off and running, finishing inside Sá’s near post.
Soon after, word of Villa’s opening spread, causing chaos and the first chorus of “Steve Gerrard, Gerrard.”
However, the mood was dampened when Thiago collapsed after overhitting a crossfield pass towards Trent Alexander-Arnold and had to be replaced at halftime by James Milner. Wolves, too, had injury issues, with Sá sustaining a leg injury, forcing John Ruddy to take over as first-choice keeper.
Despite news that Philippe Coutinho had extended Villa’s lead, the perseverance of Boly, Conor Coady, and Toti Gomes constituted a tough impediment to Liverpool’s title dreams. Wolves had several chances to add to Liverpool’s woes, but Hwang, Jiménez, and Dendoncker all squandered them.
Mané beat Ruddy with a wonderful chip after Diogo Jota released him inside the area, but he was called offside. Liverpool took the lead that may have been gifted to them.
Ruddy cleared the ball to Matip, who won the second header for Salah to score from close range. It was the substitute’s 23rd Premier League goal of the season, tying him with Son Heung-min for the Golden Boot.
False rumours of a late Villa equaliser prompted a brief frenzy inside Anfield, but they were just that. In the final minute, Robertson clinched the victory by exchanging passes with substitute Roberto Firmino and slipping in from the angle.
City’s comeback was confirmed within seconds, and Liverpool were devastated when the final whistle blew on their relentless pursuit of the champions. Sois gentil, Paris!