Under a banner being flown across Anfield which read ‘In Rodgers we trust’, the Liverpool players looked to make sure their talismanic captain got the send off he deserved. While Palace started the brighter and were as predictably lively as they have been since the Alan Pardew revolution, it was the hosts who broke the deadlock. Martin Kelly’s horrific pass was lapped up by an onrushing Adam Lallana, who then proceeded to beat a man before firing past Palace’s goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. The sense of delight and to a certain extent relief was palpable as Steven Gerrard and co look to bow out at Anfield this season with victory.
Having gone behind to Lallana’s brilliant effort, Palace were easily forgotten on a day where the focus was on Gerrard and his Anfield exit. The visitors though, not to be outdone, didn’t just simply want to be the side that showed up for the sake of it and were level before half-time through a magnificent effort from Jason Puncheon. The former Southampton winger fired a brilliant free-kick past a wrong-footed Simon Mignolet. Having been level for some time, Pardew decided to turn up the heat on the hosts by bringing on the former United winger Wilfried Zaha to try and force a lead. Having been on the field a matter of seconds, the ball found its way to Zaha who fired home from close range with his first touch. Glenn Murray put the result beyond doubt with a late penalty to ensure Gerrard bowed out in defeat.
In a career spanning 17 years and over 700 games, Gerrard has been an icon on Merseyside. And while his Anfield swansong didn’t quite go as scripted, few will be able to detract from what has been a brilliant career. Though he hasn’t managed a Premier League winner’s medal, he has picked up numerous trophies, including perhaps the most incredible Champions League final when the Reds came from behind to beat AC Milan in 2005. While his trophy cabinet won’t be as full as some of his international team-mates, Gerrard is the last in the dying era of the one club players (albeit with a trip to LA Galaxy to come). In the modern age of money driven footballers, Gerrard marks the end of a generation of players who were servants for the respective clubs for almost their entire career. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Alan Shearer, Gerrard has ignored the lure of trophies and riches to stay loyal to one club for most of their careers, to take legendary status among their clubs and provide the fans with so many brilliant memories that will keep generations of Liverpool fans enthralled. Whatever your allegience and whatever you’re opinion of the man, it is hard to take away from what has been a magnificent career for the Liverpool captain.
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