Liverpool analysis - Dejan Lovren key to fortress Anfield's rebuild as immortality awaits Jurgen Klopp's Reds
Never in doubt
In the end, there really wasn't anything to worry about.
While pre-match nerves weren't quite as frayed as 12 months previous when Middlesbrough came calling, there was still the nagging doubt Liverpool hadn't quite finished the job of sealing Champions League qualification.
But from the first whistle, it was clear the Reds were in the mood, snapping into tackles and swarming all over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Pleasing for Jurgen Klopp will be the fact Liverpool rediscovered their attacking verve after a few stuttering performances of late.
They had to, having been given little assistance by Kevin Friend, the referee waving away several strong penalty claims in the first half.
That, though, has been the way for much of this season.
Liverpool 4-0 B righton
Liverpool have had to do things for themselves, any fortune along the way having been hard-earned.
Nevertheless, there was recognition on the Kop for former boss Rafael Benitez as his Newcastle United sid e emphatically put Chelsea to bed on Tyneside.
Tottenham Hotspur's comeback against Leicester City dashed hopes of snatching third place, but the reality is only champions Manchester City have been a better watch than the Reds.
Liverpool may have finished with one point fewer than when finishing fourth last season, but Klopp is right when he says this has been a much better campaign.
A certain May 26 date is definitive proof of that.
Salah keeps on breaking records
It says much about the impact Mohamed Salah has made this season that his recent form had prompted genuine fears in some quarters.
Why? The Egyptian had gone three games without a goal for only the second time in his already remarkable Anfield career.
Salah didn't waste any time ending that so-called drought, demonstrating his trademark cool head by calmly t ucking the ball away inside a packed penalty midway through the first half.
Once again, the Liverpool forward had proven himself the man for the big occasion.
Brighton were one of the few teams Salah had failed to score against this season.
And has been the case for much of the campaign, it was a record-breaking strike, a 32 top-flight goal.
It moved him ahead of Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez as scoring the most goals in a single 38-game Premier League campaign.
And it secured the Premier League Golden Boot, two ahead of Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane.
What a week for Salah, who received two gongs at the Liverpool Players' Awards, jetted down to London to pick up his Footballer of the Year silverware and then picked up the Premier League Player of the Year accolade.
With Salah on 44 in all competitions and Ian Rush's 47-goal in his sights, his team-mates then sought to edge him closer, not least Sadio Mane.
However, the Egyptian instead turned provider for Dominic Solanke, and in doing so joined Manchester City duo Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling and Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen in reaching double figures for Premier League goals and assists.
Salah's other goals can wait for Kiev.
Solanke's long wait ends
This was a day of firsts. One, it must be said, a lot less welcome than others.
Dominic Solanke has toiled since moving to Liverpool in the summer as a World Cup winner with England U20s.
Before this game, he'd made 26 appearances and had yet to score, a barren spell that, in recent outings, had clearly been playing on his mind, prompting concerns whether he'd ever make it at Anfield.
So there was a mixture of delight and sheer relief when Solanke smashed home his first goal for the club shortly after half-time. The reaction of his team-mates highlighted their delight for the youngster who, at 20, can now look ahead to a new campaign with a huge weight off his shoulders.
By full-time, Andy Robertson had also notched his debut goal for the club, just reward for an excellent performance and a hugely impressive impact since stepping into the team for the stricken Alberto Moreno in December.
Of more concern, though, was the sight of James Milner missing from the matchday squad for the first time this season.
The 32-year-old has become an integral part of Liverpool's ever-decreasing midfield and, having played through an injury at Chelsea last week, wasn't worth risking here.
Milner will back for the Champions League final. Put bluntly, he has to be.
In defence of the defence
There was something wholly apt that it was Dejan Lovren who leapt at the far post to end any doubt over Liverpool's Champions League berth next season.
Lovren had the bit between his teeth, as he has done for much of the calendar year.
That, of course, has coincided with the arrival of Virgil van Dijk.
If Â£36.9million for Mohamed Salah looks a steal, that nobody even questions the Â£75m splashed out on the Dutch centre-back demonstrates the defender's undeniable impact.
Van Dijk was, as he usually is, was composed and dominant against Brighton and Hove Albion, who in truth offered little going forward.
With Loris Karius firmly ensconced between the sticks behind the duo and Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson either side, Liverpool have been a much more obdurate oppo nent.
Tellingly, only two of the five back line who started the opening day 3-3 draw at Watford started here.
Liverpool's tally of 17 Premier League clean sheets for the campaign is their highest total since the Premier League era.
And that helped contribute to the Reds being the only team in the 92-team English pyramid to finish the entire league season unbeaten at home. Fortress Anfield has been rebuilt.
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This was Liverpool ending the season in the manner in which supporters have grown accustomed â" free-flowing, goal-scoring and entertaining.
It also underlined the recent underwhelming outings against Stoke City and Chelsea were more a result of ti red legs and minds than anything more worrying.
That emotional, invigorating Champions League semi-final against Roma had taken a lot out of the Reds.
Here, Brighton felt the full force of Liverpool after one week's preparation.
Now Jurgen Klopp will have almost a full fortnight to get to grips with the task of halting the Real Madrid juggernaut by winning the Champions League final in Kiev on May 26.
It won't be easy, Real aiming for a third successive European Cup final win and a 13 overall.
Klopp will take his players away for a short break before the build-up truly begins.
They've earned a short breather.
Now all energies will be focused on NSC Olimpsiyskiy Stadium on Saturday week, Klopp and his players waved off to Kiev during the post-match lap of appreciation.
Immortality beckons.Source: Google News