Liverpool crowned champions in record time

Martyn Herman
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BRITAIN SOCCER ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool were crowned EPL champions in record time on Thursday after a 30-year wait

Thirty years of hurt came to an end for Liverpool when they were confirmed as Premier League champions on Thursday courtesy of second-placed Manchester City's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea.

The result at Stamford Bridge gave Liverpool their 19th league title, with an unassailable 23-point lead over City.

Liverpool were last champions of England when they won the old First Division title in 1989-90 after which a decline in fortunes saw Manchester United and Arsenal, then Chelsea and Manchester City seize power.

Inspirational manager Juergen Klopp has rekindled the Anfield flame though and delivered the club's 67th trophy, after losing out to City by a point in a thrilling race last season.

As the Chelsea game moved into stoppage time at an empty stadium in London, 350km away outside Anfield Liverpool fans began lighting red flares as the celebrations began in earnest.

Also watching from afar was an emotional Klopp.

"I have no words, it's unbelievable and much more than I ever thought would be possible," he told Sky Sports after being congratulated by Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish, manager of the 1989-90 title winners.

"It's easy to motivate this team because of our great history. It's pure joy for me to coach them."

In the last 12 months Liverpool have won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and World Club Cup, but regaining their status as top dogs in England, was the priority.

"Juergen has been fantastic and epitomises everything Liverpool Football Club stands for," Dalglish told BT Sport.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a three-month suspension of the season and delaying Liverpool's coronation, they won the title with a record seven games to spare.

They eclipsed the mark jointly held by Manchester United (2000-01) and Manchester City (2017-18), who sealed their respective titles with five games left.

City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Liverpool.

"Big congratulations for Liverpool," said the Spaniard.

"After 30 years without the title they played every game this season like it was their last with incredible focus. We were not consistent enough."

Had it not been for the unprecedented stoppage Liverpool were on course to smash the record for the earliest clinching of the league title. Instead, they are now the first team to lift the coveted trophy as late as June.

Liverpool finished last season with nine straight league wins and, after claiming the Champions League by beating Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid, began the new campaign in relentless fashion to leave rivals trailing in their wake.

With 28 wins and one defeat in 31 games, Liverpool have set a record-breaking pace and were 25 points clear in February - the biggest lead in Premier League history.

Leading the charge has been Mo Salah, the Egyptian forward who is the first Liverpool player to score at least 20 goals in all competitions in three consecutive seasons since Michael Owen at the start of the millennium.

Salah scored on Wednesday as Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 at Anfield - a result that meant City had to beat Chelsea to delay the inevitable for a while longer.

City were the first team to breach the 100-point barrier in the Premier League two seasons ago but Liverpool are on course to shatter that mark, as well as records for most points at home (55) and most wins in a season (32).

City's title defence ended when Christian Pulisic and Willian grabbed Chelsea, who are chasing a Champions league spot, a turbulent victory in west London.

Kevin De Bruyne whipped in a wonderful, equalising free-kick for City, but Willian coolly converted a penalty once Fernandinho was sent off for handball on a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check.

Earlier, Arsenal moved up to ninth after a 2-0 victory at Southampton while Burnley bounced back from Monday's 5-0 defeat to City with a 1-0 win against relegation candidates Watford.