LIVERPOOL: The emotional farewell to skipper Steven Gerrard at Anfield largely overshadowed the fact that the 3-1 defeat by Crystal Place left them still uncertain of Europa League qualification.
The entire crowd stood giving him a standing ovation over the last 10 minutes of Gerrard’s 708th match for his only club. After the final whistle he gave a speech from the pitch in which he thanked the fans and then he walked a lap of honour with his three small daughters.
He also apologised for the result which means Liverpool can still be overtaken by Tottenham and Southampton should they lose at Stoke next Sunday.
Southampton maintaned their European claim with a 6:1 thrashing of Aston Villa in which Sadio Mane scored the quickest hat-trick in the top division since the second world war.**
The Senegal striker, who cost £11.8m from Red Bull Salzburg, struck his three goals in 2min 56sec between the 13th and 16th minutes. Saints end term at Manchester City hoping both to win and for defeats for both Liverpool and Tottenham (at Everton).
Villa, despite the size of the defeat, secured their Premier League status because of the other results below them.
** Robert Huth put in another commanding performance as Leicester completed their ‘great escape’ with a 0-0 draw at Sunderland. The Foxes were bottom of the table for much of the season but a run of one defeat in eight matches has saved them. Manager Nigel Pearson hopes to secure Huth’s permanent signing during the summer.
** Sam Allardyce is likely to be West Ham’s manager for the last time next Sunday at Newcastle, one of his old clubs. Hammers’ season continued to fade away into mid-table mediocrity as they lost 2-1 at home to Everton. Allardyce would say only: “It’s nothing to do with me. It’s all up to the owners.”
** Two lower-division players have been suspended by their clubs after failing dope tests – Sheffield United midfielder Jose Baxter and Wolves goalkeeper Aaron McCarey.