- Associated Press - Sunday, May 13, 2018

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) - Mohamed Salah finished the season as the Premier League’s top scorer after setting Liverpool on its way to a 4-0 win over Brighton on Sunday that secured his team the final Champions League qualification place.

With his 26th-minute goal at Anfield, Salah moved onto 32 goals for the season - a record for a 38-game Premier League - and ensured Harry Kane would not be claiming the Golden Boot for a third straight year. Kane finished on 30 goals.

The Egypt forward lifted the Golden Boot, given to the league’s top scorer, to loud cheers after the game. His collection of trophies is growing, with Salah also having been voted player of the year by his fellow professionals and England’s football writers.

“Everyone gives you an Oscar, an award for this and award for that, for getting out of the car without an accident,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “It is really difficult to stay focused but he was focused.

“He is really difficult to defend,” Klopp said, “but he is young enough to improve. What he is, in his mind, is a real goal-getter and that is good.”

As Salah paraded the Golden Boot, there were wonderful scenes as his daughter, Makka, came onto the field and kicked about a ball to loud applause from the Liverpool fans who stayed behind after the final whistle.

It was an ideal way for Liverpool to head into the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26: Plenty of goals and no injuries.

The Reds have struggled in recent matches, losing 1-0 at Chelsea and drawing with Stoke and West Bromwich Albion - two relegated teams - to take the fight for fourth place to the final weekend

“Perfect,” Klopp said. “That is for us like a little preseason. Everyone can imagine the boys need a bit of rest. We give them two days and then go to a camp. Then five days again to prepare the last game. That is what we need.

“We showed the kind of football we couldn’t show the last few games. The boys are humans, not machines.”

James Milner did not feature but Klopp said the midfielder would be back in three to four days and would be fit to play against Madrid.

Dejan Lovren added Liverpool’s second goal, a header from a corner, before young striker Dominic Solanke and left back Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for the club in the second half.

By then, Chelsea was losing at Newcastle and on its way to a 3-0 loss that rendered Liverpool’s win meaningless. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season, with Tottenham holding onto third place by beating Leicester 5-4.

Salah was substituted in the 84th minute and was given a standing ovation from Liverpool fans, and even some Brighton supporters. He has 44 goals in 51 games in his first season at Liverpool.


More AP Premier League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/PremierLeague


Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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