Jurgen Klopp labels Sunday’s season-defining clash with Crystal Palace a ‘final’

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Jurgen Klopp has labelled Sunday’s season-defining clash with Crystal Palace a ‘final’ as Liverpool look to secure Champions League football on the last day of the campaign.

Liverpool head into their final Premier League match with their top-four destiny in their hands after a 3-0 victory at Burnley lifted them above Leicester into the top four.

Liverpool were indebted to Roberto Firmino’s strike late in the first half, defender Nat Phillips’ first senior goal early in the second, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s maiden goal of the campaign to see off a stubborn Burnley at Turf Moor.

Winning a fourth successive league match for the first time this season means the recently-dethroned champions go into the final day as the league’s in-form team having won 23 points from the last 27 available, and Klopp is demanding one last performance from his team.

“It was a semi-final. We had to win the semi-final and we did that. 3-0. Clean sheet,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “Nothing is decided yet, but we improved our position, slightly, and we have the ‘final’.

“So that’s what we wanted, that’s what we needed and it’s what the boys deserved today because it was a top, top performance.

“You can’t give any chances away against Burnley because of the way they play. They wanted to go for our centre-halves, but our boys did outstandingly well.

“You can’t give any chances away against Burnley because of the way they play. They wanted to go for our centre-halves, but our boys did outstandingly well.

“We knew before the game it would be incredibly tough – they had about 3,500 people not on our side. Atmosphere in football is massive.

“I thought the boys dealt really well with that. They didn’t get distracted – they tried to use it because noise is nice. We played a lot of good football stuff.”

Klopp admitted it was incredible Liverpool were now so close to Champions League qualification after their terrible run of form at the turn of the year seemed to have scuppered their chances.

If the Reds match Leicester’s result against Tottenham in their last home game of the season against Crystal Palace they will clinch a Champions League spot.

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It is an impressive comeback from two months ago when, for a time, any European football looked beyond them.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Klopp added. “It is not that we took these things for granted. February was the last time we were in the top four and we didn’t win a lot of games since then.

“In the last eight or 10 games, I don’t know how many, we are back on track. If we win on Sunday, then we are probably qualified for the Champions League.

“It’s insane that we came this close, but we are not through yet. It looks like the timing is right but it is not done yet.

“When you win the semi-final you go to a final and that’s where we are. We will give our absolute everything.”

Klopp is relishing playing in front of 10,000 as Anfield prepares to open its gates for Liverpool’s final-day showdown, but ensuring his players have recovered from their exploits at Turf Moor in time is his number on priority.

“We have to make sure we recover quickly,” he added. “We have a thin squad in some positions. We have to wrap them in cotton wool.

“I can’t wait for the 10,000 fans at Anfield. Nothing is decided – Palace are strong.”

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