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Liverpool beat Wolves in Jurgen Klopp's final game

football19 May 2024 17:10| Ā© AFP
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Liverpool delivered much-loved manager Juergen Klopp a victory in his final game with the team on Sunday, a 2-0 win over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in an emotional Premier League season finale.

Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring in the 34th minute and Jarell Quansah netted six minutes later for the Reds, who ended the season in third place.

Alexis Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah scored on a day that did not impact the Reds' third-placed finish in the table, but one that Liverpool fans had been dreading since the 56-year-old German manager announced in late-January that he would leave the club at season's end after almost nine years at the helm.

"I'm probably surprised, I thought I'm already in pieces to be honest, but I'm not, I'm so happy. I can't believe it," Klopp told the Anfield crowd after the game. "I'm so happy about you all, about the atmosphere, about the game, about being part of this family, about us, how we celebrated this day. Thank you so much!"

Klopp's men, who were on course to give their manager a fairytale ending before a string of bad results last month derailed their title challenge, finished the season on 82 points, nine behind winners Manchester City and seven behind second-placed Arsenal.

"I've got no words, it's a very emotional day," Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk -- fighting back tears -- told Sky Sports. "It was always going to be a tough afternoon. We wanted to make sure that we do our job basically and then obviously we can all be very emotional after the game.

"(Klopp) deserves every bit of love that he's getting."

Wolves were reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute when Nelson Semedo was sent off for his ugly tackle on Mac Allister. Six minutes later, the Argentine midfielder headed home Harvey Elliott's curling cross, bringing Klopp to his feet with a huge smile. Quansah doubled Liverpool's lead in the 40th minute when he poked in Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah's shot.

Klopp bade farewell to the Anfield faithful -- including owners John Henry and Tom Werner who flew in from Boston for the occasion -- having won 305 matches, including penalty shootouts, with the Reds.

A crowd more than a dozen deep and bathed in red smoke squeezed shoulder to shoulder along the road leading into Anfield on Sunday to welcome the team busses as they pulled in before kick off.

If Liverpool's pre-game singing of "You'll Never Walk Alone" -- the song by 1960s Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers that became the club anthem -- raises goosebumps most games, the Anfield crowd sang at the top of their lungs on Sunday while Klopp raised a hand to his heart.

"This morning I woke up and I was completely in game mode," Klopp told Sky Sports before kickoff. "We had a normal team meeting and the 60,000 here and the few million watching deserve that.

"People call it the last dance, so let's dance!"

Klopp won seven trophies since joining the club in 2015, including the Champions League in 2019 and a first English League title in three decades in 2020. He also won the Club World Cup, FA Cup, League Cup twice and UEFA Super Cup, as well as the Community Shield.

But the German was beloved as much for his passionate demeanour as his on-field success with the Merseyside club. He delighted fans with his high-octane goal celebrations and his post-victory fist pumps. He wrapped his players in huge bear hugs.

Fans' appreciation was on full display over the final few minutes of Sunday's game with supporters on their feet singing their version of the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" over and over.

"I'm so glad that Juergen is a Red, I'm so glad he delivered what he said!"

Klopp bowed his head several times struggling to control his emotions. His wife Ulla dabbed at tears.

After Liverpool lifted the League Cup in February, there was talk of a fairytale ending for the manager but they were eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League and then dropped down the league standings.

Salah, who made his 250th league appearance for the club on Sunday, finished as the season's top scorer with 18 league goals, while the team totalled 142 across all competitions, the second-highest in the club's history after the 2021-22 season (147).

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