Andy Edwards

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Klopp: “A club like Liverpool needs to be in the Champions League”

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Jurgen Klopp‘s first full season in the Premier League is over and, by just about any reasonable expectations, it was a hugely successful campaign.

[ RECAP: Liverpool take care of business on final day, finish 4th ]

Liverpool are back in the UEFA Champions League next season — a competition which Klopp said in emphatic terms following Sunday’s season final against Middlesbrough that Liverpool “needs to be in.” On the whole, Klopp seems just as jovial in May, after 38 games, as he did in August — quotes from the BBC:

“It is a long season and when our timing got better we were unbelievably dangerous. I could not imagine this morning it would be like this. I couldn’t think it would be really tight until the end. I am really happy about this. I think people deserve this opportunity for us to be able to qualify for the Champions League.

“I asked for the results at half time and not before, so I had no idea about the Arsenal score. You have no influence and again the boys delivered.

“We are Liverpool. We have to deliver. We did it again. We have to improve and we will but for now, today, it is a big relief.

“A club like Liverpool needs to be in the Champions League. Other clubs have the same target so it is not easy to be there consistently. I am proud of the boys, we worked a lot and everything is good. Now we have to build on it.”

[ MORE: Man City win to finish 3rd | Arsenal 5th | Man United 6th ]

Three major roadblocks stand out in thinking back on Liverpool’s season: 1) early defensive struggles; 2) long-term injuries to key players through the campaign; 3) their five games without a win to begin the 2017 calendar year.

With some marked improvement in those departments, and some serious investment in the transfer window this summer, the Reds should be able to continue their climb toward title contention in Klopp’s second full season in the PL.

Burnley 1-2 West Ham: Happy ending to Hammers’ tough season

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  • Feghouli, Ayew fire Hammers to victory
  • West Ham finish 11th
  • Burnley finish 16th

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Ham United’s tumultuous season, in which the Hammers migrated from Upton Park to the London Stadium and endured some serious first-season struggles, ended on a high note, with a 2-1 victory away to Burnley on Sunday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Clarets went 1-0 ahead through Sam Vokes in the 23rd minute, but Sofiane Feghouli (27th minute) and Andre Ayew (72nd-minute winner) dragged West Ham out from behind and to three points on the final day of the 2016-17 Premier League season.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Thanks to Leicester City’s draw with Bournemouth, West Ham managed to leapfrog last season’s PL champions to finish 11th this season. Burnley, who secured their PL status for another season last week, finish their first season back in the top flight in 16th.

Man United 2-0 Crystal Palace: Europa League final on Wednesday

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  • A number of Man United’s key players rested
  • United finish 6th
  • Crystal Palace finish 13th

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With the Europa League final, against Ajax, on Wednesday — perhaps you’ve heard Jose Mourinho talk about it in recent weeks — a whole host of Manchester United’s key players were rested for Sunday’s Premier League finale — just as Mourinho has done in his side’s handful of final games — against Crystal Palace.

In the end, United’s lineup mattered very little, as a side made up of a half-dozen academy/reserve players and a few first-team regulars/fringe players had very little trouble against a Palace side with nothing left to play for in terms of the PL table.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

21-year-old academy product Josh Harrop opened the scoring right on the quarter-hour mark, firing a right-footed shot just inside the far post to beat Wayne Hennessey.

Four minutes later, Paul Pogba doubled United’s lead (above video) with a calm, collected finish after Jesse Lingard played the perfectly weighted through ball into acres of space. It was Pogba’s fifth PL goal of the season.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Though United failed to finish in the top-four top-five in the PL, Wednesday’s final in Stockholm, Sweden, represents a golden ticket into next season’s UEFA Champions League. Given the way Mourinho threw away the final month of the league season, his reputation needs a win just as badly and the club’s bank accounts.

Watford 0-5 Man City: Guardiola’s men secure 3rd

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  • Man City finish 3rd
  • Watford finish 17th
  • Kompany, Aguero, Fernandinho get the goals

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The final-day formula for Manchester City was very simple, and very achievable: a win or draw away to Watford (or, a single point dropped by either one of Liverpool or Arsenal) would mean Pep Guardiola‘s first season in the Premier League would finish with a top-four finish.

After 45 textbook minutes of Sunday’s finale at Vicarage Road, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho had done more than enough to secure the Citizens’ third-place finish, and the automatic place in the UEFA Champions League group stage that comes with it.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Kompany’s opener came after five minutes, as the 31-year-old oft-injured center back headed home a corner kick from Kevin De Bruyne (the Belgian playmaker’s 17th assist of the PL season).

Ageuro followed with a pair of goals well before halftime, in the 23rd and 36th minutes, and Man City had more than enough on the day. De Bruyne tallied assist no. 18 on Aguero’s first goal, a lightning-quick breakaway that made it 2-0. Leroy Sane set up Aguero’s second, City’s third, on the counter.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Fernandinho completed the first-half rout, four minutes before halftime, by tapping home an expertly placed cross from his fellow Brazilian, Gabriel Jesus. Right on the hour mark, Jesus put his name on the scoresheet, thanks to a bit of clever footwork and an emphatic finish past another Brazilian, Heurelho Gomes, to complete the scoring.

Red Bulls 1-1 Toronto FC: TFC’s 6-game winning streak ends in thriller

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Benoit Cheyrou scored on a diving header in the 70th minute and Toronto FC salvaged a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Friday night, ending the Canadian team’s franchise-record winning streak at six games.

Toronto FC (7-1-5) had three good scoring chances in the final 10 minutes for the first seven-game winning streak in the MLS since the 2012 season. Jozy Altidore‘s penalty kick was blocked by Luis Robles in the 81st minute. On the previous play, Altidore tried to chip the keeper but it went wide and Tosaint Ricketts was knocked down in the penalty area chasing the loose ball.

In the 84th minute, Ricketts controlled a long pass with his chest on a breakaway but his shot hit the crossbar. Then Ricketts appeared to score in the 89th but it was whistled back for an offside call.

New York (5-6-2) snapped a three-game losing streak. In the 38th minute, Sacha Kljestan’s free kick was headed across goal by Fredrik Gulbrandsen and Wright-Phillips finished it with a bicycle kick to open the scoring (WATCH HERE).