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Thiago Alcantara scored his first Liverpool goal as the Reds beat Southampton in the final match at Anfield without fans

Thiago proves Klopp right
Okay, it was helped on its way by a slight deflection. And it will almost certainty only register as a mere footnote in Liverpools rollercoaster season.
But Thiago Alcantara will hope his game-clinching strike can finally kickstart a spluttering Reds career.
The Spaniard admits that for a variety of reasons most not of his own making he has been unable to live up to expectations following his arrival from Bayern Munich last September.
Jurgen Klopp, though, retains unshakeable faith in the player, and on Friday indicated he expects Thiago to fully show his worth next season.
So it was particularly timely when, in the 90th minute, the midfielder accepted a pass from Roberto Firmino and curled a shot into the bottom corner beyond Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster to seal an important victory.
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The relief was tangible in Thiagos pointed celebrations, this the first goal or assist of his Liverpool career.
Such numbers have been a stick with which to beat the 30-year-old in recent months, although his game has always been about more than just such contributions.
And with defensive nous and positional awareness being added to his undoubted passing ability, Thiago has been progressing in recent weeks.
That said, he had to cede centre stage to Fabinho, the Brazilian superb and giving Thiago a base from which to perform he simply hasnt had for much of the campaign.
Rhys picks up the pieces
It offers a neat summary of why Liverpools season has gone the way it has.
For a must-win game in the battle for Champions League football, the Reds lined up with a centre-back pairing that had made precisely zero top-flight career appearances before October.
Nat Phillips has long emerged as one of the few success stories of a difficult campaign.
But having sat out the last two games with a hamstring issue, he was unable to rekindle his partnership with Ozan Kabak here, the Turkey international absent due to a muscle complaint.
With another February signing, Ben Davies, also missing will he ever play for Liverpool? – the Reds were without five senior central defenders, meaning Rhys Williams was handed only a third Premier League start.
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Surprisingly, it didnt represent a new partnership, with Williams and Phillips having played together in the 1-0 home defeat to Fulham in March.
Williams grew in confidence when coming out on top in a one-v-one with Che Adams, although with Nathans Tella and Redmond lively for Southampton the youngster was regularly tested.
The defensive duo deserve credit for their part, particularly during the closing quarter as the visitors pressed for an equaliser, in securing only Liverpool’s fourth home Premier League clean sheet of the season and a first in nine games.
And when the makeshift backline was breached, Southampton found Alisson Becker in imperious form, the goalkeeper now having firmly put behind him his mid-season wobble.
Fans on the way back
What the blazes are they doing to each other at Kirkby?
While Jurgen Klopp is a known fan of time on the training pitch, it appears a rather dangerous place to be for Liverpool players at present.
Kabak was joined by James Milner and Naby Keita in dropping out from the squad that was due to feature at Manchester United last weekend.
Given Liverpool now finish the season with four games in 11 days the next three of which are on the road Klopp can ill afford such absences as he looks to rotate.
Options were sparse here, evidenced by Billy Koumetio and Ben Woodburn being among the substitutes.
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Liverpool got the job done without turning to the youngsters, even if Klopp was reluctant to utilise his senior options from the bench until late on.
There will, though, be a very significant change the next time the Reds step out at Anfield in a fortnight, greeted not by silence but instead the noise of 10,000 fans for the final home game against Crystal Palace.
It is a significant step back towards normality that everyone has been craving and Liverpool sorely need.
They just arent the same without their fans and the miserable last 14 months have rendered any further debate over that fact completely redundant.
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