Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp dedicated their 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace to the absent fans as his side moved within two points of a first league title in 30 years.
Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane completed a rout against the visitors in one of their best performances of the season – in front of an empty Anfield.
Klopp said the players had a duty to put on a show out of respect for supporters unable to attend and watching at home and they duly delivered.
“I said to the boys ‘I want to see best behind-closed doors football ever’. I’m not sure about the best behind-closed-doors football but it was the best-behind-closed doors counter-pressing ever,” he said.
“We scored some fantastic goals. It was only important we gave this sign and we showed our supporters the respect they deserve: that we can play like they are here even when they are not here.
“Yes they can push us to incredible things and I never missed them more than tonight – imagine if this game had happened with 55,000 people in the stadium, that would have been incredible?
“But we cannot have that so it was important we showed the respect to the people. That’s what the boys did and I loved it.
“This night could have been better with people in the stadium, it was an important step for us, a sensational football game and it would have wished for all people to be here so we made their night any way.”
Liverpool will be crowned champions on Thursday night if Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Klopp will be tuning in but, he insists, only for some tactical insight as City as their next opponents in a week’s time.
“I watch the game tomorrow night not to prepare a celebration but we play City a week later and also Chelsea,” he added.
“This game is a really important game to watch for plenty of reasons. Whatever happens tomorrow night we have no influence on it so I have no interest.
“It will happen when it happens.”
Palace were so dominated – they had just 26 per cent possession – they failed to record a single touch in the opposition box against Liverpool, becoming the first side to do so in a Premier League match since the full statistics began being recorded in 2008-09.
Manager Roy Hodgson, whose side came into the game on the back of four successive victories with clean sheets, admitted they were out-played and out-fought all game.
“It was always going to be hard against their pressurising when they play with intensity and power and asking questions,” he said.
“When we eventually won it back from them they pressured us so well we couldn’t retain possession. As a result it was a constant pressure on the midfield and back players.
“I thought they held out till just before half-time but that second goal was decisive as that put them in the driving seat and a third goal put the game to bed and left us hanging on.”
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