Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday.
It was also the end of an era in England’s top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield.
Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season.
That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe’s elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte’s last league game as manager.
The final-day “miracle” that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn’t happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up.
Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn’t matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola’s side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season.
It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79.
Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick’s final game for the club.
ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH
Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League’s top scorer this season.
His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons.
There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool’s fans cheered Salah’s daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field.
Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26.
Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season.
Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half.
Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club’s American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team’s relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place.
Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors’ box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to “get out of our club” from the first minute.
Andy King’s goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace.
In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith’s Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners.
A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message “Merci Arsene, we will miss you too” in response to Wenger’s goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium.
“I should have announced every week my goodbye,” Wenger said, “because people have been so nice with me.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey’s cross in the 38th minute for the only goal.
Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working.
“Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don’t think that can be cured,” Wenger said.
City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier.
Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City’s players.
Pep Guardiola reacted to the team’s 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City’s supporters.
The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle.
City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80