While Liverpool started brightly, dominating the opening minutes of play, Middlesbrough settled deep into a 6-3-1 block in their defensive end. The pattern looked all too familiar as a visitor arrived at Anfield daring the Reds to break them down.
Anfield remained positive throughout the afternoon, even as scores from the other fixtures started filtering in. Then Gini Wijnaldum’s smashing strike in front of the Kop, just before the break, sent Anfield into frenzied relief. It was the remedy the Reds required before hastening Boro’s preparations for the Championship, ultimately thrashing them 3-0.
Liverpool have made a habit of doing things the hard way in recent years and there were tense moments. Wijnaldum nearly had a chance at the conclusion of Anfield’s minute applause for recently deceased Hillsborough survivor Alan Dixon.
Moments later, Dejan Lovren got tangled up with Boro striker Patrick Bamford in what could easily have resulted in a penalty and potentially stronger action but referee Martin Atkinson waved it off.
In the end, none of it made a difference, as Liverpool’s mission was accomplished, securing fourth place and the chance for Champions League football for only the second time in eight years.
It is a marked success by Jurgen Klopp in his first full season at the club.
Here are four findings from the match.