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Liverpool 2 Newcastle United 1: Anfield side left with more than just hollow words for comfort

This is how the season ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The refrain adapted from The Hollow Men was likely to sound empty to Liverpool fans and their players following their scuppered title bid this season, but they might well have derived more comfort from it than the words of an erstwhile rival: football, bloody hell.

The Barclays Premier League table yesterday accounted for how close the Anfield side came to securing its first title in 25 years, with champions Manchester City just two points ahead of them. The trophy would still feel miles away, though, since it was delivered instead to the Etihad Stadium.

Anfield held its breath yesterday as Newcastle were dismissed nervously, only for confirmation to arrive swiftly that City had won too. Goals in the second half from Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge - which cancelled out an early own goal from Martin Sktrel - were made insignificant.

Liverpool had led the title race for the majority of the campaign, only to slip up on the home straight. An air of dejection choked Merseyside yesterday as a result but this has been a campaign worthy of some positive reflection. There is the Champions League to look forward to, after all.

"My overriding feeling at the moment is one of sheer pride for the players," said Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager. "We have finished the season winning 12 games out of 14, drew one and lost one. So the players have shown an incredible level of consistency and quality in that period.

"We would prefer to finish top but we finished just behind and that's a great mark of the progress we've made this season. The goal is to try to win the title next year."

Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, had delivered a passionate speech to his team-mates earlier in the campaign to help inspire their title charge. He spoke more calmly at Anfield but still made his point clear.

"We can't be too down," he said. "It's been a fantastic season and we need to bounce back next year and go one better. There's a lot of ability in the squad."

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