Liverpool’s remote chances of finishing in the top four were made even more remote by their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.
Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, acknowledged that his team has not performed well enough to make the Champions League this year.
After winning nine straight games, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa at home, which further diminished their slim chances of finishing in the top four.
They would have to win their final match at Southampton and rely on Newcastle or Manchester United not picking up another point from their remaining two games, an outcome Klopp admits is unlikely.
“I believe the entire season is more of a season where we qualify for the Europa League than for the Champions League,” he said.
“We had been lacking in self-worth for far too long.”
Even though the draw was disappointing, it did have a memorable conclusion, thanks to Roberto Firmino, who came off the bench to score at the Kop end in the 89th minute to offset Jacob Ramsey’s first-half effort and is leaving the club after eight significant years.
Along with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Naby Keita, who were not included in the matchday squad, Firmino was not the only player bidding Anfield adieu as their contracts expire in one month. This added to an emotional but frustrating afternoon.
“We had a difficult day because we all care about these four boys,” Klopp continued. “There was no justification for this.”
“I wouldn’t say the first half was very good. In both departments, when we had the ball and when we didn’t, we were moving too quickly.
“Our pressing wasn’t good; you could tell we wanted but the timing was ‘Wow. That wasn’t very helpful: ‘Who is where?’
“They (Villa) had moments in the game and they are obviously a good football team.
“It was obvious that in the second half we needed to settle down, crank up the pressure, but settle down in the right places, and that’s what we did. Then you could tell the entire game was for Aston Villa super-intense, too.”
Despite the disappointment of conceding an equalizer late in the game, Villa manager Unai Emery was pleased with the team’s performance.
By defeating Brighton in their final game the following week, his team will surpass Tottenham and qualify for Europe.
Emery said, “There are many ways to analyze 90 minutes.”
“I believe that we played very well in the first half, but we also played well because it takes skill and personality to play well while avoiding the high press.
“We played excellent defense, and our dedication was outstanding.
Three points would have been fantastic.
“I’ve played here before, so I am aware of how challenging a game it is at Anfield. They were at their most confident and prepared for the top four during their best moment of the season.”