Southampton said goodbye to Premier League football with an eight-goal bonanza against Liverpool at St Mary’s on a memorable final day of the season.

An epic encounter saw Saints trail 2-0 inside 14 minutes, to goals from Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, only to draw level before half time.

James Ward-Prowse got one back with a well-taken low shot from open play, before Kamaldeen Sulemana opened his account for the club at the end of an incisive breakaway.

Kamaldeen then doubled his tally three minutes into the second half with a sublime solo effort, while substitute Adam Armstrong made it 4-2 within seconds of coming off the bench, as Saints’ pace in attacking areas continually cut through a makeshift visiting defence, missing the dominant presence of goalkeeper Alisson behind them.

But Liverpool were not beaten, and Cody Gakpo and Jota struck twice in two minutes to rescue a point, before Mohamed Salah hit the post from an audacious lob.

Both goalkeepers made telling late saves, from Salah and Kyle Walker-Peters, who both thought they’d won it, but a crazy game ended all square.

Rubén Sellés made one change to his side following the defeat at Brighton, bringing Kamaldeen into the attack at the expense of Joe Aribo, who dropped to the bench.

A bouncing away end, that spent much of the first half serenading the departing Firmino, were in party mode by the 14th minute, with their team 2-0 up.

Unfortunately, the opener was all Saints’ own doing. Determined to play their way out of trouble, Alex McCarthy’s pass to Roméo Lavia was played first time and square by the Belgian, who was facing his own goal and looking for Jan Bednarek.

What Lavia had not spotted was Jota, lurking with intent and ready to pounce, as the Portuguese stepped in to score one of his easiest goals, ten yards out with McCarthy out of his goal.

The lead was doubled five minutes later. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low pass into Fabinho dissected the Saints midfield, before the Brazilian found his compatriot in the box.

From there Firmino showed familiar composure, delaying his shot to leave Lyanco floundering on the floor, before beating McCarthy with a low drive through the keeper’s legs.

The majority inside St Mary’s must have been fearing the worst, but Saints came roaring back.

Carlos Alcaraz was at the heart of it. Trading passes with Kamaldeen, only Alcaraz will know whether his assist was intended for Ward-Prowse or the nearby Walker-Peters, but it was the skipper who stepped on to it, hitting a first-time shot from 15 yards back across Caoimhin Kelleher and into the keeper’s bottom-left corner.

It was goal number 11 of the season for the skipper, matching last season’s tally, and his first from open play since January.

Liverpool set about reclaiming their two-goal lead when Joël Matip sent a far-post header back across goal that sailed uncomfortably between the upright and the onrushing Salah.

But Saints were causing problems on the counter-attack, and did so again to draw level before the half-hour mark.

Theo Walcott’s pass in behind the defence was exactly the sort of service he’s relished over the years, and Kamaldeen gave it the seal of approval, beating Kelleher with a low shot, taking the ball in his stride with a first-time strike that squeezed under the Irishman’s body, as the Ghanaian opened his Premier League account on the final day.

Ward-Prowse’s quest to draw level with David Beckham’s free-kick record resumed soon after the leveller, though the odds were never in his favour from a wider position than he’d like, and on this occasion Kelleher’s handling was up to the task.

James Bree and Mohamed Elyounoussi both tried their luck from distance as Saints finished the half with renewed energy and purpose, backing up Sellés’s belief that his team have never thrown the towel in, even after relegation was confirmed.

The turnaround was complete three minutes into the second half. Again it was the speed of Saints’ counter-attacking that was too much for Liverpool.

Kamaldeen was afforded too much space to drive at the defence, who continued to back off and invited him to shoot from the edge of the box, which he did with aplomb, planting a curling effort inside Kelleher’s left-hand post with the keeper rooted to the spot.

Cue an impressive celebration from the goalscorer, who threw in a backflip and a somersault to mark the occasion.

There was rarely time to pause for breath in this game, and the goals continued to flow.

Firmino was denied an assist for Salah when Ward-Prowse blocked the Egyptian’s close-range shot, before the Brazilian departed to a standing ovation, with many of the Saints fans joining in.

That was part of a quadruple substitution from Jürgen Klopp, but it was Sellés’s double change on 63 minutes that made an instant impact.

One of Klopp’s arrivals from the bench, Jordan Henderson, gifted possession to Armstrong, who had only just come on.

The forward had too much pace for Liverpool’s backline, who had struggled against Saints’ speed all afternoon, and he ran through unopposed to beat Kelleher with a low left-footed shot across the keeper.

Improbably, Saints had turned a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead, but a quick-fire Liverpool double levelled the scores in the blink of an eye, as the Reds struck twice in two minutes.

First Gakpo tapped home Alexander-Arnold’s low cross in the 73rd minute, before Jota dispatched Salah’s pass with an unstoppable rising drive virtually straight from kick-off.

Salah nearly gave the game its ninth goal, brilliantly lobbing a long ball over McCarthy’s head, first time on the volley, only to see the ball bounce against the post and back into play.

After Theo Walcott departed to a standing ovation, replaced by Tino Livramento on his St Mary’s return after more than a year watching from the stands, Ward-Prowse was also taken off, as the stadium rose once more.

Teenagers Dom Ballard and Sam Amo-Ameyaw were both introduced, the latter for Ward-Prowse as one Academy graduate replaced another, with 16-year-old Amo-Ameyaw given his senior debut as Saints' youngest ever Premier League player.

McCarthy saved brilliantly from Salah, who was somehow kept at bay all afternoon, before a lively cameo from Amo-Ameyaw set up Walker-Peters for a ferocious strike that was destined for the top corner until Kelleher intervened, as Saints exited the Premier League in an enthralling goal fest that ended honours even.

Southampton: McCarthy, Bree, Bednarek, Lyanco, Walker-Peters, Lavia (A. Armstrong 63), Ward-Prowse (Amo-Ameyaw 87), Elyounoussi (S. Armstrong 64), Walcott (Livramento 77), Alcaraz, Kamaldeen (Ballard 86).
Unused substitutes: Bazunu, Ćaleta-Car, Doyle, Aribo.
Goals: Ward-Prowse 19, Kamaldeen 28, 48, A. Armstrong 64.

Liverpool: Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Tsimikas (Elliott 57), Milner, Fabinho (Henderson 57), Jones (Gakpo 57), Salah, Firmino (Díaz 57), Jota.
Unused substitutes: Adrián, Konaté, Williams, Arthur, Carvalho.
Goals: Jota 10, Firmino 14, Gakpo 73, Jota 74.
Yellow cards: Tsimikas 25.

Referee: Darren England.

Attendance: 31,129.