Liverpool held off a Christian Pulisic-inspired comeback as the runaway Premier League champions overcame Chelsea 5-3 ahead of the trophy presentation at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s title winners got into the party spirit as they were involved in an eight-goal thriller on Merseyside in their final home game of an unforgettable season, though there was little sign of the late drama to come when they led 4-1.
Naby Keita’s right-footed rocket opened the scoring, and there was a long-awaited home goal for Roberto Firmino – his first in the league since March 2019 – early in the second half.
The impressive Pulisic helped the Blues battle back to 4-3, raising hopes of clinching the draw they required to make certain of a top-four finish, but Liverpool had the last word, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slamming home to secure the win.
Liverpool had laboured since crossing the line yet appeared hungry to mark the occasion by producing something special.
Their opener demonstrated one of the key traits that has helped end the 30-year wait to reign again, Keita helping to win possession as the hosts pressed high before unleashing a rasping shot that flashed beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A debatable foul call by referee Andre Marriner offered Trent Alexander-Arnold the opportunity to curl in a second goal with a glorious a free-kick, while the visitors’ set-piece woes continued when their failure to deal with a corner allowed Georginio Wijnaldum to smash the loose ball in.
Chelsea pulled one back when Olivier Giroud reacted quickly to stab home from close range before half-time, but the game seemed up when Firmino finally ended his drought by heading home Alexander-Arnold’s inviting cross.
Pulisic had other ideas, though. The United States international slalomed through to set up fellow substitute Tammy Abraham for a tap-in finish, then reduced the deficit to one by swivelling inside the penalty area and firing into the roof of the net.
Klopp made changes to try and stem the tide and it was one of his substitutes who ended Chelsea’s hopes, Oxlade-Chamberlain arriving at the back post to provide the finish to Andy Robertson’s delivery.