MANCHESTER games left to play.
Until England striker Sturridge, making his first start since Jan. 3, opened the scoring Liverpool had seemed nervy as West Ham looked intent on putting a spanner in their top-four hopes.
West Ham’s Sam Byram wasted a golden chance early on, shooting wide after being played clear by Manuel Lanzini.
Joel Matip struck the underside of the crossbar for Liverpool, who took the lead when Coutinho’s defence-splitting pass sent Sturridge clear and he left keeper Adrian grounded with a neat stepover before sliding the ball home.
Liverpool survived a scare when Andre Ayew somehow struck the post twice in the space of seconds just before the interval.
Klopp’s side could breathe easy though when Coutinho fired in a rebound after 57 minutes after Georginio Wijnaldum’s shot cannoned back off the woodwork. Four minutes later Coutinho made the points safe after a counter-attack with West Ham furious that a handball had gone unpunished in the build-up.
Divock Origi steered in Liverpool’s fourth as the visiting fans celebrated a likely return to Europe’s elite competition.
In an earlier match, Marco Silva admitted Hull City had only themselves Riyad Mahrez was tripped by Gael Clichy 15 minutes from the end, but the winger slipped as he scored the resulting penalty, touching the ball twice and causing the goal to be ruled out.
“In the second half, we didn’t know whether to attack or defend. You have to understand how important the game was for everybody,” Guardiola said.
“When you are in the middle of that, you are not sure if you defend or attack.
“But with the 10 minutes of injury time we had at the end, they defended quite well, so congratulations to the team. We are trying to finish the season well.”
Leicester manager Shakespeare acknowledged the decision to rule out Mahrez’s penalty was the right one.
However, he felt that City’s first goal should not have stood, with Raheem Sterling swinging a leg at Silva’s goal-bound shot, and missing it, while standing in an offside position.
“It is a freak penalty, a double touch. Clearly the letter of the law states it doesn’t stand,” Shakespeare said. Reuters to blame after a 4-0 thrashing by Crystal Palace saw them relegated from the Premier League.
After taking charge at Hull in January, Silva coaxed an improvement in his lowly team’s performances, but it wasn’t enough to save them from the drop to the Championship.
The Tigers’ campaign has been marred by poor signings and boardroom turmoil that contributed to Steve Bruce quitting last year after he had led them to promotion.
Silva acknowledged Hull, who were woeful in a crucial loss to relegated Sunderland last weekend, hadn’t done enough to stay up.
“It is really sad for the club and our fans. We did our best to do something in the last four months, but the players need to understand why this happened and start to win next season,” he said.
“Our players knew this was a final, we prepared like that but gave a goal away at the start. Then it makes it difficult.
“We gave them what they wanted and they were comfortable. We did the same from set pieces.
The former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos boss has already been linked with a close-season move to Premier League side Watford and he was coy when asked about his future after the Palace debacle at Selhurst Park.
“We will see about my future. We have to analyse with the board and chairman,” he said.
“I will give my opinion on what to do differently because it is clear to me.” Agencies
Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke (centre) and Hull City’s Alfred N'Diaye (left) vie for the ball in a Premier League match at Selhurst Park yesterday.