Liverpool F.C. finish 4th in Premier League to qualify for UEFA Champions League play-off

first_imgLiverpool F.C. overcame some early tension to beat already relegated Middlesbrough F.C. 3-0 and finish in fourth place in the Premier League on Sunday, sealing a place in the qualifying stages of next season’s UEFA Champions League.With halftime approaching at a nervy Anfield, Liverpool F.C. was being held 0-0 and in danger of being replaced in the top four by fifth-placed Arsenal, which was winning at home to Everton F.C. at that stage.Georginio Wijnaldum’s injury-time strike put the Reds back in control of their destiny, and second-half goals by Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana wrapped up a comfortable win.FULL-TIME Liverpool 3-0 Boro. The Reds confirm a top-four finish thanks to goals from Wijnaldum, Coutinho and Lallana #LIVMID pic.twitter.com/ZAYkVb3OAV- Premier League (@premierleague) May 21, 2017Liverpool F.C. will need to win a two-legged playoff in August to play in the Champions League for only the second time in eight seasons, since American-run Fenway Sports Group bought the club in 2010.Despite almost breaking even in the last offseason while all of its rivals were spending heavily, Liverpool F.C. finished in the top four in Juergen Klopp’s first full season in charge.Wijnaldum was relegated with Newcastle last season but has proved to be a player for the big occasion for his new club.The Netherlands midfielder grabbed the winner against Manchester City F.C. on Dec. 31, scored at home to Chelsea F.C. and Arsenal F.C., and was arguably Liverpool F.C.’s best player in the 2-0 win over Tottenham F.C. in February, a result that got the team back on track after a run of poor form.advertisementAll six of his goals have come at home, none more important than Sunday’s.It was the first occasion where a midfield runner broke from deep beyond Middlesbrough’s packed defense, with Wijnaldum found by a deft flick by Roberto Firmino. The finish from the angle was unforgiving, high inside goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s near post.The relief was palpable inside Anfield, and the second half was like a celebration.Coutinho kept up his brilliant recent form by curling a free kick into the bottom corner in the 51st and Lallana finished off a sweeping counter-attack with a low shot into the corner in the 56th.The result could have been so different had Middlesbrough been awarded a penalty midway through the first half when Dejan Lovren appeared to haul down Patrick Bamford in the area. Lovren was last man and would have been sent off.last_img

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