London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah set a new Premier League record of 32 goals in a 38-game season to guarantee Liverpool’s place back in the Champions League next season by beating Brighton 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday.
Victory for Liverpool meant it didn’t matter what fifth-placed Chelsea did at Newcastle, but they failed to put any sort of pressure on the Champions League finalists by succumbing limply to a 3-0 defeat at St. James’s Park.
At the other end of the table, Swansea’s seven-season stay in the Premier League came to an end as they were relegated to the Championship after a 2-1 defeat by Stoke.
Liverpool are aiming for a sixth European Cup when they face they might of Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26.
But Jurgen Klopp’s men know even if they fall short in Kiev, they will be back in the Champions League next season as they blew Brighton away.
“I’m really proud of the boys, a nearly perfect season,” said Klopp. “We had no chance to challenge Man City so the only thing you can go for is a Champions League spot. It is a big thing.”
Salah eased any nerves by swivelling to strike his first goal in four games on 26 minutes to take his tally in all competitions this season to 44.
“Now we are in the Champions League next season and I won the award too, so (I’m) very proud,” said Salah on being awarded the Golden Boot prize for the Premier League’s top scorer.
Dejan Lovren made the game safe with a towering header just before half-time and Salah then turned provider for Dominic Solanke to slam home his first Liverpool goal.
Liverpool were allowed to rest easy with Salah and Sadio Mane withdrawn before Andy Robertson added a fourth.
Chelsea gave themselves no chance of usurping Liverpool into fourth as they slumped to a 10th Premier League defeat of the season in the north-east.
Dwight Gayle and two goals for Ayoze Perez piled ever more pressure on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte just six days ahead of what could be the Italian’s final game in charge in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.
– City hit 100 –
Champions Manchester City have broken the Premier League record for wins, points and goals this season and set another landmark by becoming the first side in English top flight history to reach 100 points as Gabriel Jesus struck a dramatic late winner to beat Southampton 1-0.
That also meant City set a record Premier League margin of victory of 19 points from Manchester United, who won 1-0 over Watford at Old Trafford.
England manager Gareth Southgate will name his World Cup squad later this week, and there was plenty of encouragement for Southgate as his three of his strikers were on target.
Marcus Rashford scored his first goal since March for United’s winner, whilst Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane both struck twice at Wembley as Tottenham came from 3-1 down to beat Leicester 5-4 and hold off Liverpool to finish third.
Kane cancelled out Vardy’s early opener before Riyad Mahrez restored Leicester’s lead and Kelechi Iheanacho’s smashed home a third for the visitors early in the second-half.
Erik Lamela scored twice and saw another effort deflect in off Christian Fuchs for an own goal to put Spurs in front before Vardy levelled with his 20th league goal of the campaign.
However, Kane had the final say with his 41st of the season to head to the World Cup in fine form.
Arsenal gave Arsene Wenger a parting gift in his final game as manager after 22 years in charge by winning their first points away from home in the Premier League in 2018 with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield.
“Of course it is very emotional after 1,235 games for the same club,” said Wenger. “To enjoy it we had to win it. Winning football games is what makes me happy and the boys did it.”
Club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his 10th goal in 13 games since joining in January by finishing off the sort of free-flowing move that Wenger has made his trademark as Gunners boss.