Liverpool ended a dramatic and tumultuous season with a place in the Premier League’s top four, after a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Qualifying for next season’s Champions League looked unlikely earlier this season, with the Reds losing six on the bounce at Anfield.
Equally as unlikely was Sadio Mane’s downturn in form in that time. However, the Senegal international looked transformed in front of 10,000 returning fans as he scored both goals to seal a huge win.
In doing so, he equalled Robin van Persie’s record of scoring in eight consecutive matches against a single opponent, extending his fantastic record against the Eagles.
Liverpool began the day with a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone and they had several big opening chances. Mohamed Salah and Mane both looked lively, while Trent Alexander-Arnold made his presence known.
After that, Andros Townsend nipped in on Alexander-Arnold’s poor pass, running clear before firing wide of Alisson’s right post.
From there, Liverpool grew into the game, with their right-back’s free-kick going close. From a corner, Rhys Williams had a free header but powered it over.
Nevertheless, Liverpool kept going. Mane and Salah combined for several moves down the right, while Andy Robertson had a cross cleared for another corner, from which the hosts took the lead.
Mane gets crucial opener
The ball was swung in and Roberto Firmino got a touch, but Mane, sliding in, got the crucial touch to bundle the ball home from less than six yards.
Firmino’s snapshot then fired wide, before Salah’s flick-on missed as the Reds finished the half strongly.
Liverpool started the second half as they ended the first, with Alexander-Arnold having an effort tipped over and Vicente Guaita also palming Williams’ header away.
Firmino then slipped away from his marker, before Alexander-Arnold’s cross was snuffed out.
The chance matched the tone of the second half, with Liverpool dominating possession and Palace struggling to get out, although Robertson did well to win a goal-kick from Zaha on the left.
Mane seals huge Liverpool win
Amid the uncertainty over what a draw would do for Liverpool’s top-four hopes, they needed a second goal to ease their concerns.
In keeping with the day’s events, Mane got that strike. Salah was typically involved, collecting on the right and moving left to find the Senegalese.
Mane, in space, steadied himself and fired the ball home with the help of a deflection.
With the pressure eased, Salah took it upon himself to go chasing the Golden Boot – unaware of Harry Kane’s strike which put him on 23 and eventually won him the prize.
Indeed, the Egyptian fired wide with a curler, before Firmino failed to tap in his scuffed effort.
Palace failed to create any more meaningful chances, with Liverpool ending the match – and the season – strong.