It was the final game of the season, and the equation was simple — if Liverpool wins, they would make Champions League football. However, the task wouldn’t be easy as Middlesbrough have only lost 1 game against Liverpool in their last 10 games home and away.
There was just one change for the Reds, a fit Roberto Firmino replaced Divock Origi as the Reds set out in their diamond formation. It was an Anfield return for Daniel Ayala and Downing.
Liverpool knew that if they wanted to get three points it wouldn’t be easy since Middlesbrough set out with 4 at the back with 5 midfielders in the middle. This scenario made it difficult for Liverpool to cut past them. However, Phil Coutinho took the initiative as he tried to weave some magic from the middle of the park.
33 minutes gone and it was still goalless as Sturridge turns away from a challenge and fires low and narrowly wide. This, however, did deflect off Boro defender Ben Gibson who turned it behind for a corner.
Middlesbrough had their attempt blocked as Patrick Bamford’s left-footed shot from the centre of the box was blocked; this play was set up by George Friend.
Liverpool broke the deadlock as Roberto Firmino played in Gini Wijnaldum’s right- footed shot, which flew into the top right corner beating Brad Guzan.
Liverpool won a free kick position which could only be described as an ideal free kick territory; the kick was far enough to get it to rise and bend back again to give the goalkeeper something to think about. This is exactly what Coutinho did as his free kick found the back of the net beating Middlesbrough keeper Guzan in the process.
Two soon became three as Georginio Wijnaldum’s play set up Lallana, who didn’t make a mistake in guiding the ball past Brad Guzan.
At the stroke of the hour mark, Boro did have a chance but Rudy Gestede’s header from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Liverpool looked much freer now as they were constantly putting shots on goal. Middlesbrough did make the first change of the match as Alvaro Negredo replaced Rudy Gestede, while Daniel Ayala replaced Fabio. Liverpool did make their fury of changes as Origi came on for Sturridge, Moreno came on for Milner and Lucas Leiva for fellow Brazilian Firmino.
This is how the game ended, meaning Liverpool has confirmed a Top 4 finish for next season.