Monday, November 29, 2021

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Liverpool storm into top four ahead of final day

Liverpool set up a dramatic final-day battle to qualify for the Champions League with a vital 3-0 win at Burnley on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side moved into fourth place in the Premier League thanks to goals from Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Phillips and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Liverpool are above fifth-placed Leicester on goal difference, with the Reds on +24 and the Foxes on +20.

If Liverpool win their final game at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday, they should finish in the top four and salvage a difficult campaign that saw them tamely surrender the title to Manchester City.

Leicester host Tottenham on Sunday, while third-placed Chelsea, one point above Liverpool, travel to Aston Villa.

Firmino put Liverpool on course for their fourth consecutive victory with a clinical finish from Andy Robertson’s 43rd minute cross.

Phillips got the second goal in the 52nd minute with a header from Sadio Mane’s cross for his first goal for the club.

Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the scoring by driving home in the 88th minute.

“We had to win the ‘semifinal’ and we did. Nothing is decided yet but we improved our position and we have the final,” Klopp said.

“That’s what we needed. It’s what we deserve because this was a top performance.”

Fifth and sixth place finishes secure a spot in next season’s Europa League, while seventh place brings entry into a play-off for the new Europa Conference League.

Meanwhile, Tottenham’s bid to reach the Europa League suffered a blow in a 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Spurs will now have to wait until their last game of the season to discover their European destiny.

A second defeat in their last three games left them in seventh place, level on points with eighth-placed Everton and three points behind sixth-placed West Ham.

They will have to beat Leicester and hope West Ham lose to Southampton to pip their London rivals on goal difference.

The Hammers are on course to qualify for the Europa League after a 3-1 win at relegated West Bromwich Albion.

Everton remain in the hunt for the Europa Conference League after Richarlison’s 48th minute header sealed a 1-0 win against Wolves.

Arsenal won 3-1 at Crystal Palace and could still qualify for the Europa Conference League as they battle to avoid missing out on European football for the first time since 1995-96.

Nicolas Pepe’s 35th minute volley put Arsenal ahead before Christian Benteke equalised in the 62nd minute.

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli netted in stoppage-time before Pepe struck again with virtually the last kick.

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