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The 2017-18 Premier League season’s final day was, in the end, rather anticlimactic. There were no miracles. No stunning, improbable turnarounds.
The title had been won a month ago. The top-four race and relegation battle were tipped on Wednesday, in favor of Liverpool and Southampton. Neither Chelsea nor Swansea could tip them on their heads.
But there were records to be broken. And the Premier League’s best player and team – Mohamed Salah and Manchester City – broke them.
Most importantly, though, Liverpool confirmed its place in the 2018-19 Champions League with a 4-0 victory over Brighton at Anfield. The Reds – and Salah, their catalyst – were therefore the big winners on the day.
Mohamed Salah’s Premier League record highlights accolade-filled day
Mohamed Salah had been stuck on 31 Premier League goals for what felt like ages. He had equaled the league’s record for goals in a single 38-game season last month. A place alone in the history books beckoned. And finally, on Sunday, Salah claimed it.
After being denied an early penalty, the Egyptian struck in the 26th minute to move one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08), Luis Suarez (2013-14) and Alan Shearer (1995-96) atop the Premier League 38-game season charts. He spurred Liverpool on to a win that clinched a top-four place.
But the record wasn’t Salah’s only distinguishing honor of the day. Prior to kickoff, he was named the Premier League Player of the Season. At the final whistle, he secured the Premier League’s golden boot, beating out Tottenham’s Harry Kane by two goals. It was a wonderful and fitting way to cap off Salah’s debut season on Merseyside.
Chelsea flops at Newcastle
As it turns out, Liverpool didn’t even need to beat Brighton. It didn’t even need a result. Because Chelsea, in a similarly fitting end to the campaign, slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle.
It was, in all likelihood, Antonio Conte’s last Premier League game at Chelsea. The FA Cup final could send him off on a feel-good note. But the Blues’ failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League will be damaging.
Swansea City relegated, Southampton safe
Swansea needed a win, a Southampton loss and a 10-goal swing to avoid relegation to the Championship. It only got one of the three outcomes. The Swans ended their seven-year Premier League stay with a deflating 2-1 loss to Stoke. There were tears on the field and in the stands at the final whistle.
Swansea was a great asset to the Premier League for a half-decade. But it strayed from its identity and lost its way in recent years, and ultimately deserved to go down.
Manchester City hits century mark in dramatic fashion
Manchester City already had Premier League records for wins, points and goals. It needed one more victory, though, to become the first Premier League team to hit 100 points. And on Sunday at Southampton, it got it. Right at the death.
With nearly the last kick of the game at St. Mary’s, Gabriel Jesus sent Pep Guardiola bounding down the touchline, his fists pumping. His goal beat Southampton 1-0, and claimed points 98, 99 and 100 for the champions. If the celebrations were any indication – Jesus ripping off his shirt, the entire City bench racing to the corner to greet him – City had its eye on the century mark. And it capped off an unparalleled season by hitting it.
Jesus’ goal also secured the inaugural Premier League Playmaker Award for Kevin De Bruyne, who had provided the assist.
Arsene Wenger says goodbye to Arsenal
Wenger’s last game in charge at Arsenal was a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield town. Befitting of the day around England, it was a rather anticlimactic way for Wenger to go out. He had lost his shot at a European final earlier this month, and lost his shot at a top-four battle throughout a disappointing season. Throughout the past two years, he had shown why he had to go.
Still, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provided some comfort on the afternoon:
And Wenger got his grand sendoff last weekend. And he deserved every round of applause. He deserved every second of it. Over 22 years, he left an indelible mark on Arsenal, on English football, and on the sport.
Tottenham and Leicester City play game of the day
With nothing really at stake for either club, Spurs and the Foxes really cut loose and provided fans an entertaining finale in a 5-4 thriller.
First-half goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez sandwiched Harry Kane’s strike for Tottenham, and Kelechi Iheanacho put Leicester up 3-1 early in the second half. But Spurs’ Erik Lamela fired back shortly after, and a Christian Fuchs own goal tied things up in the 53rd minute.
Lamela then put the hosts ahead 4-3 before Vardy equalized in the 73rd minute. Then Kane, who was still within earshot of the Premier League Golden Boot, scored the winner:
This marks Tottenham’s final game at Wembley Stadium before moving into the redeveloped White Hart Lane to start next season. And what a fond farewell it was.
All 10 Premier League scores
Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth
Crystal Palace 2-0 West Brom
Huddersfield 0-1 Arsenal
Liverpool 4-0 Brighton
Man United 1-0 Watford
Newcastle 3-0 Chelsea
Southampton 0-1 Man City
Swansea 1-2 Stoke
Spurs 5-4 Leicester
West Ham 3-1 Everton
Joey Gulino contributed to this story.
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• McIntyre: How Mohamed Salah rose to superstardom