Liverpool set up their trophy presentation as Premier League champions with a thrilling 5-3 win over Chelsea to deny the Blues sealing their place in next season’s Champions League.
Sweet first half strikes from Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum ensured a night to remember for Jurgen Klopp’s men was accompanied by a positive result after just two wins in five previous games since they clinched a first title in 30 years.
Olivier Giroud pulled a goal back just before half-time, but Liverpool looked to be cruising when Roberto Firmino’s first league goal at Anfield this season made it 4-1 early in the second half.
The introduction of Christian Pulisic transformed Chelsea on the hour mark as he set up Tammy Abraham then smashed home himself into the top corner to cut the deficit to a single goal before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Liverpool breathing space six minutes from time.
Defeat sees Chelsea slip to fourth and leaves Frank Lampard’s men still needing a point at home to Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to secure a place in the Champions League.
Chelsea have already bolstered their attacking options for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, while they are reportedly closing in on a deal for the 90-million euro ($103 million, £81 million) rated Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen.
But it is at the other end Lampard clearly has to find solutions as they completed an entire league season with just one clean sheet away from home and have now conceded 54 times in the Premier League this season.
A 1-1 draw with Burnley in their last home outing denied Liverpool the first ever perfect Premier League home record, but they matched the best ever return of 18 wins and one draw to complete three full league seasons without defeat at Anfield.
Despite pleas for fans to stay away on the night Liverpool finally get their hands on the trophy, supporters greeted the team bus on arrival and the Reds looked more like they did for much of the season prior to the coronavirus shutdown.
Keita is one of very few big money signings in Klopp’s time in charge not to reach his full potential in two seasons since a move from RB Leipzig, but the Guinean showed what he is capable of by crashing a shot in off the underside of the bar from outside the area.
Chelsea were incensed with the award of a free-kick that led to Liverpool’s second when Mateo Kovacic was penalised for bringing down Sadio Mane. But there no doubt about the quality of Alexander-Arnold’s strike as he curled home his third free-kick of the season, two of which have come against the Blues.
Wijnaldum then smashed into the roof of the net after Chelsea failed to clear a corner before Giroud pulled a goal back at the other end by sliding in after Alisson Becker saved Willian’s initial effort.
The second half was interrupted by the constant crackling of fireworks lit by fans outside the stadium, but there were plenty on the pitch too.
Alexander-Arnold crossed for Firmino to finally end his Anfield drought before Mohamed Salah missed two huge chances to score against his old club.
Pulisic was surprisingly left on the bench by Lampard from the start and he changed the came after he was introduced alongside Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The American skipped past four challenges before squaring for Abraham and then fired powerfully into the roof of the net with the Liverpool defence all over the place.
But Chelsea were undone again at the other end as a blistering break from inside their own box saw Liverpool surge forward and Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed home Andy Robertson’s cross at the back post.
Messi Lamenting Over Suarez Departure
Lionel Messi bid an emotional farewell on Friday to Luis Suarez, the day after the Uruguayan striker had said tearful goodbyes to Barcelona after the club sent him to Atletico Madrid.
“Today I went into the dressing room and the awful truth hit me,” Messi posted on Instagram, before renewing his criticism of club management.
“You deserved to be sent off as what you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club,” Messi wrote. “And not to be fired in the way they did it.”
“The truth is that at this point nothing surprises me anymore.”
Messi has a long-running feud with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu which intensified after Barcelona were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern in a Champions League quarter-final in August.
Messi tried to force his exit from Barcelona but finally accepted that he would have to see out the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, two of his closest friends on the team, Suarez and the Chilean Arturo Vidal have left.
The 33-year-old Suarez moves to Atletico on a two-year contract on a free transfer, although, if he does well, Barcelona could receive some money.
Suarez, who hit 198 goals for Barca, becoming the third highest goalscorer in the history of the club, cried as he bid an impromptu farewell to the club on Thursday.
“I’m going to keep playing, with fresh motivation, with the objective to show I can continue competing,” Suarez said.
“Everyone knows the relationship we have, Leo and me. I’ve already played against him in the Uruguay-Argentina matches, playing against each other is not going to change the feelings we have for each other,” Suarez said.
Messi and Suarez were neighbours in the beachside suburb of Castelldefels and would arrive at training together.
“How difficult it is going to be not to continue to share the days with you, both on the pitch and off it” wrote Messi in a post accompanied by seven pictures of the two men together, sometimes with their families. “We are going to miss you very much. It’s been many years, many cups of mate, lunches, dinners…Many things that I will never forget.”
“It’s going to be weird to see you with another shirt and much more to face you,” wrote Messi. “But I wish you all the best in this new challenge. I love you very much, I love you very much. See you soon, my friend.”
Bayern Beat PSG To Win Sixth Champions League Title
Bayern Munich won the European Cup for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an engrossing Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.
It was often a cagey final, with a bit of needle between the teams, but chances too, especially before Coman appeared at the back post to head in Joshua Kimmich’s inviting 59th-minute cross and wrap up a treble for a team who had already won the Bundesliga and German Cup.
Hansi Flick’s team will feel they deserved their victory, yet PSG will regret not taking any of the chances that were offered up to them on a surreal occasion at an empty Estadio da Luz.
Kylian Mbappe in particular should have done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer right on the stroke of half-time.
The France World Cup-winning forward had spoken of his determination to go down in his country’s history by helping PSG become just the second French winners of European football’s greatest prize.
But they will have to wait for the chance to match Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993.
PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition, not just reach the final. However, in the end, it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.
The 24-year-old Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, only to leave in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get the regular football he desired if he stayed put.
He had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left-wing.
Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.
But at Bayern, he will always be remembered as the man who won them this trophy in 2020, in the club’s 11th final and seven years after they were last European champions.
– Mbappe’s big miss –
Flick’s team have ended this season with 21 straight victories and unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.
However, only a few hundred lucky invitees were inside the cavernous home of Benfica to see the denouement of the ‘Final Eight’, at the end of a competition so long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The strangest of finals pitted together two clubs who have taken very different routes to becoming part of Europe’s elite, with Bayern’s status as Germany’s most successful and powerful side long-established and PSG having left the rest of the French game behind following the Qatari takeover of 2011.
But if this was a mismatch in terms of history, on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced.
That translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.
Bayern came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski — looking for his 56th goal of the season — took down an Alphonso Davies cross, turned and struck a shot against the post.
The Pole also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, PSG’s goalkeeper who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and who was returning after injury ruled him out of the semi-final against RB Leipzig.
But Bayern take risks by playing with such a high line, and PSG should have punished them in the first half.
Neymar was denied by an excellent Neuer save after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe himself contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gited him the ball in the Bayern box.
Alaba had earlier seen his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out seemingly with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that forced him off against Lyon.
Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern held onto their lead.
Bayern had broken the deadlock just before the hour mark in a move that began with a sprayed Thiago Alcantara pass forward, and ended with Coman arriving to head in Kimmich’s perfect delivery.
Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.
Premier League Release Fixtures List For 2020/2021 Season
Leeds’ first Premier League game for 16 years will see Marcelo Bielsa’s men travel to defending champions Liverpool, while Manchester City and Manchester United will miss the opening weekend to give them extra time to recover from a late end to the 2019/20 season.
All sides were guaranteed by the football authorities to have at least 30 days off between the two seasons after the late finish to the campaign caused by a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
City and United were eliminated from the Champions League and Europa League respectively last weekend, three weeks after the end of the Premier League season.
Chelsea and Wolves will start their seasons on Monday September 14th after they too were involved in European competition into August.
Leeds are back in the top-flight for the first time since 2003/04, but could not have asked for a tougher start, on September 12 against the champions who have not lost a league game at Anfield in more than three years.
Tottenham host Everton, Arsenal travel to newly-promoted Fulham and Chelsea are away to Brighton on the opening weekend.
City and Liverpool are scheduled to meet on the weekends of November 7 at the Etihad and February 6 at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men do not face traditional rivals Manchester United until 2021 with the Red Devils visiting Anfield on January 16 and Liverpool heading to Old Trafford on May 1.
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