Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
Chelsea clinched a berth in next season's Champions League at the expense of Liverpool in the '£20m match' at Stamford Bridge.
Jesper Gronkjaer's winner consigned Liverpool to the consolation prize of Uefa Cup football and possibly seriously dented Gerard Houllier's close-season plans to strengthen.
After a tepid start, the game burst into life as Sami Hyppia gave Liverpool an 11th minute lead, escaping some slack Chelsea marking to head home Danny Murphy's well-flighted free-kick.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SHOWDOWN
11 mins: Hyppia heads Liverpool ahead.
13 mins: Desailly's header makes it 1-1.
26 mins: Gronkjaer's curling shot puts Chelsea ahead.
Liverpool's lead lasted just a minute, though. Gronkjaer collected the ball on the right and fired in a cross for Marcel Desailly to head in off Jerzy Dudek's right-hand post.
Referee Alan Wiley played a good advantage as Graeme Le Saux was felled by Jamie Carragher, but Chelsea failed to use it as Eidur Gudjohnsen fired woefully over when well placed.
For a team needing to win, Liverpool's attacks carried little conviction and the preferred partnership of Michael Owen and Milan Baros lacked the physical presence to ruffle Desailly and William Gallas.
Liverpool's task took on mountainous proportions on 26 minutes when Gronkjaer fired Chelsea ahead.
The Dane collected on the right-hand corner of the penalty area and brushed off John-Arne Riise's weak challenge before curling a delicious shot around Dudek's despairing dive.
Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri left Gianfranco Zola on the bench and his preferred strike pairing almost combined at the start of the second half, with Gudjohnsen just failing to make contact with Hasselbaink's cross.
Liverpool substitute Emile Heskey had a fierce shot blocked and Owen volleyed Riise's cross over as they looked for a route back in.
Gerrard then let fly from 30 yards to bring a good save from Carlo Cudicini.
Liverpool's desperation for a goal risked leaving them short-handed at the back and Djimi Traore twice had to be alert as Chelsea broke quickly.
Liverpool were denied a 77th-minute equaliser by a sharp-eyed linesman who spotted Baros's handball before slotting the ball home.
Chelsea came within a whisker of a third on 84 minutes when Dudek pushed Mario Melchiot's shot on to the post.
Salt was rubbed in Liverpool's wounds when Gerrard was shown a second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Le Saux.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly, Babayaro, Gronkjaer (Stanic 68), Petit, Lampard, Le Saux,
Hasselbaink (Cole 80), Gudjohnsen (Zola 72).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Morris.
Booked: Gallas, Hasselbaink, Le Saux.
Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore,
Riise (Cheyrou 75), Diouf (Berger 63), Gerrard, Murphy,
Diao (Heskey 45), Baros, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Arphexad, Biscan.
Sent Off: Gerrard (90).
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).