Liverpool 2 - 0 Crystal Palace: The Reds will play Champions League football 
Sadio Mane's excellent record against Crystal Palace continued with two goals in front of 10,000 spectators. Photo by Paul Ellis - Pool via Getty Images

Liverpool's fifth win in succession secured UEFA Champions League football next season thanks to a brace from Sadio Mane against Crystal Palace. 

Mane's excellent form has coincided with the team's as they finished in third place in the Premier League. That position looked almost impossible a few weeks ago after the Reds dropped points against Newcastle United. 

Roy Hodgson received a warm welcome from the Anfield faithful as he ended his 45-year tenure as a football manager. 

  • Story of the match

Unlike against Burnley, where the score line flattered Liverpool, the result and performance was fully merited. Bar an unconvincing opening 15 minutes Jurgen Klopp's men dominated, created a resounding amount of chances and come away with the deserved result.

Those first exchanges however were nervous for everyone involved in Red as Palace started brightly. Wilfried Zaha, unsurprisingly the visitors' most dangerous player was threatening from the fourth minute as he was able to beat Nat Phillips with a lovely bit of skill before getting to the left touchline and forcing a decent save from Alisson. They came close again a few minutes later when an Andros Townsend freekick from the right wing forced Liverpool's number one to tip over his shot for a corner.

It would get even more nervous inside the ground because Palace should have made it 1-0. A poor pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold sold Phillips sort his team mate short and Townsend in on goal missed his shot with the ball just edging wide of the right hand post. 

That clearly woke The Reds up as they started to play the football that won them the title last season. Mane threaded a ball through to Mohammed Salah and bar an excellent recovery from Tyrick Mitchell, the Egyptian would have made it 1-0 and simultaneously, secured his third golden boot.

Last season Alexander-Arnold produced a wonderful freekick against the same opponents on the way to the club's title win and he nearly repeated his effort again. Further out his effort was well struck but slightly too high. 

Minutes later, it should have been 1-0 to Liverpool, Andy Robertson spotted Rhys Williams absolutely free, six yards out but his header was wasted into the Anfield Road end. 

Another chance was wasted, this time by Salah, after an excellent pass by Thiago over the top of the Palace defence, Liverpool's top scorer really should have squared it to Mane for a tap in however he shot straight at Vicente Guaita

However, thankfully, Liverpool would not rue those missed chances. Another out-swinging corner from Robertson found the head of Williams again, this time he flicked the ball on, it hit Roberto Firmino on the way to its final destination where Mane was able to scramble the ball in a few yards out. 

Similarly to the end of the 2016/17 season there was mass relief when Liverpool scored as results elsewhere had placed The Reds outside of the top four in that moment in time.

The second half was fairly calm, Palace rarely threatened and Liverpool weren't too desperate for a second goal. As time ticked on, the atmosphere inside the ground became a bit more nervous, but that was soon put to rest thanks to Mane's second just after 70 minutes. A fine move which started from a pass by Alexander-Arnold to Firmino who moved it down the line to Salah, he was able to cut inside into Gini Wijnaldum who quickly moved it back to the Egyptian who then proceeded to move it again left to Mane and via the aid of a deflection ensured that the final minutes of the season would be a calm occasion as Liverpool FC ended a miserable campaign on a high.  

  • Takeaways from the match

A wonderful farewell for Wijnaldum and a big job to do for the club over the summer

Wijnaldum's will leave Liverpool after five extremely successful seasons where he had a massive part to play in securing the club's sixth European Cup and their first League title in 30 years. 

Wonderful moments such as the crucial opening goal against Middlesbrough in 2016/17  to ensure Liverpool's return to the Champions League, the match winning goals against Roma and that brace against Barcelona in the semi-finals of the competition as well as the late winner against Sheffield United in 2019/20. 

He is undoubtedly a modern day legend and will be sorely missed from everyone connected with the club.

Now that the season is over, there is much work to be done to bring the title back next season, the return to fitness for Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip alongside the potential incoming of Ibrahima Konate will bolster the Reds' backline and a return to form from Mane and Firmino will be crucial. Signings must and will be made and if they are completed, Jurgen and his squad will be back with a vengeance. 

A similar story for Palace who have are set for even bigger changes

With Roy Hodgson ending his four-year relationship with the club and several players out of contract, Steve Parish will have a lot of work to do to ensure Roy's work isn't ruined by brining in the right manager as well as the right players. 

It's been another respectable season from The Eagles and they will look forward to an exciting rebuild and hopefully for them further progression on the pitch.