LIVERPOOL, England, May 12 (Reuters) - Liverpool’s 29-year wait for a league title will continue after they had to settle for runners-up spot behind Manchester City despite a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the Premier League season.
The victory for Juergen Klopp’s side at Anfield on Sunday thanks to Sadio Mane’s double became irrelevant to the title outcome as City won 4-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion to ensure their second straight league crown.
It will be hard to stomach for Liverpool after such an excellent campaign but Klopp’s men, beaten just once in the Premier League this season, finished one point behind City with 97, a record total for a team coming runners-up.
“As long as City are around, with the quality and financial power, it’s not easy that any other team will pass them. That is clear,” said German coach Klopp.
“We have to be very close to perfection to win the Premier League, I think this is the case. The season is a very long, hard one. You have to deal with setbacks.
“We were always competitive. City got the points they have because we were there. They have 198 points in two years, that’s special. We made such big steps. It’s only the first step.”
The midweek drama of Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona to reach the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur on June 1, removed some of the disappointment on an afternoon that ended with a lap of honour from the players with their families.
The day began with the possibility that Liverpool’s first league title since 1990 could be secured if a remarkable week of football ended with another upset, this time at Brighton.
Liverpool certainly played like they believed that could happen, especially when Mane put them ahead in the 17th minute, meeting a low cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold and sweeping home from close range.
News of Brighton taking the lead against City, brought inevitable roars from the crowd and, even with Pep Guardiola’s side quickly replying, for 21 minutes, until City got in front, Liverpool were temporarily in the top spot.
But as news of their title rivals’ progress at Brighton filtered through, Liverpool’s intensity gradually faded.
Wolves keeper Rui Patricio was alert to keep out a 20-metre blast from left-back Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah volleyed over the bar from the edge of the area.
But after the break, it was the visitors who looked the more likely to add to the scoring, with Matt Doherty hitting the bar and, in the 69th minute, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson having to react quickly to foil Diogo Jota after a ball over the top.
Liverpool eventually made sure of the win when Mane added his second in the 81st, again assisted by Alexander-Arnold whose deep cross was nodded home by the Senegalese at the back post.
Liverpool strikers Salah and Mane both ended the season on 22 league goals, sharing the ‘Golden Boot’ award with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband