Hull 1 Liverpool 0. Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League are all but over after a sobering defeat to relegation-threatened Hull City left the Reds seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.
Defender Michael Dawson scored the winner for Hull, heading home after 37 minutes. Toothless Liverpool were unable to respond with Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling making little impact up front. The Reds and have now taken just four points from their last five games as Brendan Rodgers's third campaign limps to a sorry conclusion.
The game took place on the 25th anniversary of Liverpool's last title triumph. "As a microcosm of the failings that have undermined them for a quarter of a century, it was almost pitch perfect," says Tony Barrett in The Times. "Expensive signings contributing next to nothing, a team ending another disappointing season in disarray and an increasingly embattled manager talking of the need to rebuild; all the hallmarks of their failure were present."
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But defeat may be a blessing in disguise for Liverpool, says Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph, as it is obvious the Reds are not up to Champions League standard. "There is no value in qualifying for a competition you are not prepared for, and certainly not good enough to participate in," he says. "As this year shows, it leads only to ritual humiliation."
If Rodgers wants his team to perform better next season he needs a "significant influx of new blood".
Defeat puts the pressure not only on Rodgers but also the club's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, says the Daily Mirror. "They have entirely failed to address the gaping hole left by the departure of Luis Suarez and the signing of Balotelli looks more bizarre by the day, as does his incomprehensible selection after one league win in five matches," writes David Maddock.
"The FA Cup semi-final defeat made life uncomfortable for Rodgers, but what seems like a lame surrender at the end of a disappointing campaign will only make it more difficult still, and raise again the spectre of Jurgen Klopp."
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