By Simon Evans
LIVERPOOL, England, May 23 (Reuters) – Sadio Mane struck twice as Liverpool secured Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday.
A fifth straight win completed an impressive end to what had been a disappointing and injury-plagued Premier League campaign for last season’s champions.
With 10,000 home fans present, Liverpool made a nervy start and Palace’s Andros Townsend missed a great chance when he intercepted a poor pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold but with only Alisson Becker to beat, he fired wide of the post.
Liverpool grew into the game though, creating several chances before Mane broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, firing home from close range after Palace were unable to clear an Andy Robertson corner.
Mane made sure of the win and a top-four spot when he drilled in a left-footed shot in the 74th minute after being set up by Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool ended the season unbeaten in their final 10 matches, winning eight of them. They finished in third place on 69 points, 17 points behind champions Manchester City.
The game was the final match in charge of Palace for their manager Roy Hodgson, who is leaving the role at the age of 73. (Reporting by Simon Evans Editing by Toby Davis)