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Klopp keeps the drama going to the end as Liverpool beat Spurs 4-2 in his penultimate Anfield match

LIVERPOOL, England: The smile is back on Jurgen Klopp’s face — even if his Liverpool players seem intent on testing his nerves right to the end.

The Premier League title may be all but beyond the Merseyside club, but that doesn’t mean the drama is over for Klopp, who will step down at the end of the season.

Last week he was arguing on the sideline with Mohamed Salah as Liverpool effectively dropped out of the title race. And while Salah opened the scoring in a 4-2 win against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, it was Harvey Elliott who appeared to bring the broadest smile to Klopp’s face with a wonderful long-range goal in what looked like being a cakewalk for Klopp’s team.

“What a goal,” the Liverpool manager said. “In the game you only see it flying in and I thought, ‘That was a good shot.’ The goal I saw afterwards, there was not a lot of space left or right. It went exactly where it should be be. Top goal.”

Elliott’s strike, after goals from Salah, Andy Robertson and Cody Gakpo, fired Liverpool into a 4-0 lead before the game had even reached the hour mark. What followed was the unlikeliest of fightbacks from Spurs that might have made this another frustrating day in what has ultimately been a disappointing finale for Klopp at the end of nearly nine trophy-filled years.

Goals from Richarlison and Son Heung-min made it a much closer contest than it had ever looked like being. And it needed two outstanding saves from Alisson, a goal-line clearance from Joe Gomez and a VAR call to prevent it from being closer still.

“It’s a little bit of a mirror of the season. Really, really, really, good until we were really rubbish and then, we were okay again,” Klopp said.

A nervy finish didn’t stop the home fans from beckoning Klopp to produce his trademark post-match triple fist pump to the crowd after his penultimate home game in charge, with Feyenoord coach Arne Slot set to take over next season.

Mathematically, at least, it is not over for third-place Liverpool, who sit five points adrift of leader Arsenal with two games remaining. But, in reality, a late-season slump has killed Klopp’s hopes of walking away with a second Premier League crown of his reign.

His team had been heavily rebuilt over the past two seasons and was not expected to contend at the top so soon. But this season at one point offered Liverpool the hope of a quadruple of trophies. Now they feel like it is ending on an underwhelming note.

Still, Klopp, who delivered the English League Cup in February, will walk away from a team that is on the up and leave his successor with plenty of young talent to work with.

The 21-year-old Elliott is a prime example and he showcased his ample potential with an assist and a goal as Liverpool threatened to run riot.

His perfectly placed curling cross provided Gakpo with the simple task of heading in Liverpool’s third and then he swept an unstoppable shot from around 20 yards (meters) into the top corner and beyond Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

“Harvey is exceptional. Still so young. So exceptional,” Klopp said. “In the midfield position, it was probably one of the top three performances from him today. The goal was exceptional. Everyone needs moments to gain more confidence. It was a good moment. That helps definitely.”


A bad week for Aston Villa got worse after a surprise 1-0 loss at Brighton.

Unai Emery’s team lost 4-2 at home to Olympiakos in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semifinal on Thursday. And on a day when it could have secured its place in next season’s Champions League, it suffered another setback when Joao Pedro headed home a rebound in the 87th after seeing his penalty saved by Robin Olsen.

Only Spurs’ loss at Anfield prevented it from being a bigger blow after the result at the Amex Stadium had given Ange Postecoglou’s team hope in its pursuit of Villa in fourth.

But Villa still missed out on the chance of making certain of a top-four finish.


Chelsea’s troubled season could still end on something of a high after Mauricio Pochettino’s team boosted their chances of European soccer next season with a 5-0 rout of West Ham.

The win at Stamford Bridge moved Chelsea up to seventh in the standings and two points behind sixth-place Newcastle. Only the top six teams in the Premier League will be guaranteed a place in Europe next season.

“We need to keep this momentum and belief going,” Pochettino said.

While Chelsea’s exorbitant spending under US owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital was supposed to put the 2021 Champions League winner back in contention for the biggest prizes, qualification for Europe would represent progress after finishing in the bottom half of the table last year and another season of struggle this term.

After a morale-boosting 2-0 win against Tottenham on Thursday, Chelsea followed it up by thrashing West Ham.

Nicolas Jackson scored twice in the second half after Chelsea had raced to a 3-0 lead by the break through goals from Cole Palmer, Conor Gallagher and Noni Madueke.

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