LONDON: Thirty years of hurt came to an end for Liverpool when they were confirmed as Premier League champions on Thursday courtesy of second-placed Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea.
The result at Stamford Bridge means Liverpool have an unassailable 23-point lead over City with seven games left.
Liverpool were last champions of England when they won the old First Division title in 1989-90 after which a decline in fortunes saw Manchester United and Arsenal, then Chelsea and Manchester City seize power.
Inspirational manager Juergen Klopp has rekindled the Anfield flame though and delivered the club’s 19th top-flight title, one behind arch-rivals United’s record of 20, after finishing runners-up to City in a thrilling race last season.
As the Chelsea game moved into stoppage time at an empty stadium in London, 350km away outside Anfield Liverpool fans began lighting red flares as the celebrations began in earnest.
Also watching from afar was an emotional Klopp.
“I have no words, it’s unbelievable and much more than I ever thought would be possible,” he told Sky Sports after being congratulated by Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish, manager of the 1989-90 title winners.
“It’s easy to motivate this team because of our great history. It’s pure joy for me to coach them.”
In the last 12 months Liverpool have won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and World Club Cup, but regaining their status as top dogs in England, something that was almost a given in the 1970s and 1980s, was the priority.
“Juergen has been fantastic and epitomises everything Liverpool Football Club stands for,” Dalglish, told BT Sport.
“And it’s not just a one-off, last year they came within a point of it and this year they have only lost once.
“Onwards and upwards, I think they have a lot more happy days to look forward to now.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a three-month suspension of the season and delaying Liverpool’s coronation, they have won the title with a record seven games to spare.
They eclipsed the mark jointly held by Manchester United (2000-01) and Manchester City (2017-18), who sealed their respective titles with five games left.
City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Liverpool.
“Big congratulations for Liverpool,” said the Spaniard, whose title-winning side finished 25 points ahead of Klopp’s team two seasons ago and pipped them by a point last term.
“After 30 years without the title they played every game this season like it was their last with incredible focus. We were not consistent enough,” he added. — Reuters