Liverpool marked an emotional day for retiring legend Jamie Carragher with a comfortable 1-0 win over relegated QPR.
Though the winning goal belonged to Philippe Coutinho, the day of course belonged to the retiring Carragher, who received a hero’s welcome, a hero’s farewell and even managed to provide the moment of the match by smashing a 30-yard second-half drive against the woodwork.
Harry Redknapp’s Londoners were dominated in both shots at goal and possession but, despite a subservient performance which summed up their miserable campaign, the back four did a remarkable job to keep the scoreline so slender.
Though Liverpool were locked in to finish seventh before matchday 38 and QPR have long been marked for relegation, the retirement of ‘pool legend Carragher meant this dead rubber match was far from meaningless to some.
Making his entrance to a guard of honour with his two children and the Kop stand creating a touching tifo mosaic which read “JC 23”, an emotional Carragher entered the playing field for the final time.
Attention soon shifted to business as usual, with the hosts getting off to a flying start and being denied a second-minute opener by another goal-line-based human error.
Football’s wait for a global surge of video technology was made to feel even more eternal when Coutinho’s header from an early corner was blocked behind the line by debuting Rs academy graduate Michael Harriman.
Replays conclusively showed the effort should have been given as a goal, but the former Internazionale man – who enjoyed five of his side’s 10 first-half shots – would get on the scoresheet 20 minutes later.
After being fed possession by 17-year-old prospect Jordon Ibe, making his first start for the Reds, Coutinho rifled home a fine low strike which ensured justice had been served.
Justice did not seem to be a concept which applied to home skipper Carragher on his big day moments later, when he clearly tried to ‘Maradona’ a set piece towards goal and perhaps only escaped a mandatory yellow when his ‘Hand of God’ whiffed completely.
Daniel Sturridge, Stewart Downing and substitutes Suso and Fabio Borini all really should have extended the advantage for Brendan Rodgers's men, but the biggest near-miss fell to the man of the hour, just after the hour.
Carragher sauntered forward at will - inevitably looking for that crowning moment in his last match - and when he collected possession 30 yards out in the 62nd minute, nobody saw his spectacular drive, which came back off the woodwork's angle, coming.
He was withdrawn five minutes from time to ensure yet another standing ovation with Sebastian Coates on in his place but, though Jamie Mackie really should have done better with a golden opportunity in stoppage time set up by fellow replacement Junior Hoilett, this was always going to be Liverpool's - and Carragher's - special day.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Armand Traore, Queens Park Rangers - Despite the match being Carragher-headlined and Liverpool-dominated, the QPR defenders each put in a series a great last-ditch interceptions and the left-back was the busiest of the lot.
LIVERPOOL: Reina 7, Johnson 8, Enrique 8, Carragher 7, Skrtel 6, Lucas 7, Henderson 6, Downing 7, Ibe 7, Coutinho 8, Sturridge 6. Subs: Coates n/a , Suso 6, Borini 6.
QPR: Green 7, Harriman 7, Onuoha 8, Hill 7, Traore 8, Derry 5, Park 5, Remy 6, Zamora 6, Townsend 5, Mbia 6. Subs: Mackie 5, Granero 6, Hoilett n/a.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jamie Carragher
- Philippe Coutinho