Following Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over QPR at Anfield on Saturday, we round up the best of the Sunday newspaper reaction.
Steven Gerrard’s final 12 months or so at Liverpool certainly haven’t been the most memorable, but he provided a special moment for his adoring fans on Saturday.
The 34-year-old’s 87th-minute header in front of the Kop earned Brendan Rodgers’ side all three points, and may well prove to be his last ever goal in a Reds shirt before he departs for Los Angeles this summer.
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 3, 2015
Philippe Coutinho and Leroy Fer had earlier exchanged well-taken goals, before Gerrard’s penalty miss 12 minutes from time looked set to add to his recent collection of high-profile gaffes.
He came to the rescue, however, as he has so many times down the years, saving his side’s blushes in a game they never really played that well in.
The legendary midfielder unsurprisingly dominated much of the paper talk:
Chris Bascombe (The Telegraph)-
The final reel of Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career will not have the show-stopping conclusion many anticipated, but his unrelenting capacity to stir the masses will be appreciated when he gets to Hollywood.
It’s as if that Rudyard Kipling line about confronting the twin impostors of triumph and disaster was penned as a biography of Gerrard’s career. Here it was encapsulated in the space of eight minutes.
Whatever other qualities will be recalled when Gerrard has moved on it will be his sense of personal responsibility for the fortunes of his club that may override all else.
Andy Hunter (The Guardian)-
A plane circled Anfield before kick off carrying a banner that read “Rodgers Out Rafa In” but it was Queens Park Rangers who were directed towards the exit by the end. Steven Gerrard dug Liverpool out of a hole, just for old times’ sake, with an 87th-minute winner on his penultimate home appearance.
Anfield desperately craved another Gerrard goal but it proved an agonising wait with the captain going close with a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area and missing a penalty here for the sixth time in his career before finally delivering.
David Maddock (The Mirror)-
At last, the torture has ended for Steven Gerrard.
Just as it seemed his fairytale ending would turn into a nightmare, the Liverpool skipper produced a brilliant last gasp header to win this game and change his Anfield luck.
Gerrard walked off to a standing ovation when he was replaced on 90 minutes, but only after smashing his pounding header into the top corner barely three minutes from time, to produce another famous chapter in his amazing story.
James Pearce (Liverpool Echo)-
Steven Gerrard’s send-off had taken another painful turn for the worse with Robert Green pushing away his spot-kick 11 minutes from time.
The gloom was about to descend a little further. But Gerrard has never been one to accept his fate.
The past 17 years have been littered with glorious examples of him providing the inspiration to drag the Reds kicking and screaming over the line.
And just when his remarkable story looked set to be limping to an underwhelming conclusion, he added another rescue act to his unrivalled Anfield collection.
Richard Jolly (ESPN)-
Even as his powers wane, Steven Gerrard is capable of conjuring great moments. His latest, perhaps his last in a Liverpool shirt, was required in part because of his own failings. He had missed a penalty, spurning the chance to put his side ahead.
Instead, he powered into the box to make contact with Philippe Coutinho‘s corner. He headed in his 184th Liverpool goal. In trademark fashion, it was a late winner. Anfield erupted. Gerrard had rolled back the years in his penultimate game on home turf.
Team and other individual performances
As ever, (Coutinho was) the inspiration behind most good Liverpool moves. Produced a lovely finish to open the scoring and was typically bright and creative but it was his work rate and relentless pressing that were as impressive as anything.
Having been out of the side for so long the big frontman (Lambert) performed well, all things considered. It was his pass that created the opener for Coutinho and his link-up play was impressive all afternoon.
Didn’t really have any clear-cut chances to score the Anfield goal he will be so desperately craving before his seemingly inevitable departure this summer. He’ll have one more game to fulfil the dream, and few would begrudge him doing so.
James Pearce was impressed by Adam Lallana, and felt Lambert’s effort levels put Mario Balotelli to shame:
Lallana hasn’t come close to living up to his £24million price tag during an injury-plagued first season at Anfield.
But back in the starting line up after six weeks out with a groin problem, he provided a welcome injection of creativity. His willingness to press the ball also improved Liverpool as he forced the opposition into coughing up possession.
Lambert could also hold his head high after producing the kind of tireless shift you simply don’t get from Balotelli.
Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail felt Rodgers’ blushes were saved by his captain, on a day that threatened to heap more pressure on Liverpool’s manager:
Until Steven Gerrard added another vital goal to his collection with only a few minutes of this contest remaining, the people behind the banner that was flown over Anfield six times before kick-off were probably feeling more than justified.
This was looking dangerously like another crushing result for Brendan Rodgers, and while the reinstatement of Rafa Benitez seemed rather ambitious the pressure certainly seemed to be increasing on Liverpool’s manager.
In the end Gerrard came to his rescue, meeting a Philippe Coutinho corner with a marvellous header in the 87th minute to punish QPR for the fact that they had just been reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card for Nedum Onuoha.
Next up for Liverpool is the trip to Chelsea next Sunday (4pm kick-off GMT). The Reds will have to hope that United have failed to add to their four-point advantage against Crystal Palace on Saturday, if they are to have any chance of a highly unlikely top-four finish.