Liverpool wrap up home fixtures with a win

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 0

Fernando Torres wrote another piece of history for himself with his 32nd goal of a stunning first season in English football.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo has stood between Torres and the PFA and Writers' Footballer of the Year awards this week, and yet another fine strike here underlined why.

The Spaniard has now scored in eight successive home league games which equals Roger Hunt's club record.

His 15th in his last 17 games shows the remarkable consistency of the front-man.

The winner came in the 58th minute when he cruised past Richard Dunne to beat Joe Hart with an angled drive.

Much of the game had been dominated by City fans venting their anger at the likely sacking of their manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, but it was Torres who again stole the show.

Liverpool's final home match of the campaign ended with a lap of honour, and Torres took much of the acclaim.

Boss Rafael Benitez also received his ovation. There will be no Champions League final this season, but the Kop made it clear that they do not want to see their manager go the same way as Eriksson.

Benitez made five changes from the side that lost at Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final in midweek, with Steve Finnan, Lucas, Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel and youngster Emiliano Insua coming in.

Out went Xabi Alonso, Martin Skrtel, Yossi Benayoun, Alvaro Arbeloa and John Arne Riise.

And still Peter Crouch could not get a game, the lanky striker did not even make the bench.

Troubled Manchester City - who have lost four of their last five - recalled captain Richard Dunne, with Gelson Fernandes dropping to the bench.

For Liverpool, this was just a game for pride with nothing else now to play for with their European exit.

For City however, the game had taken on a whole new dimension. The future of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was all that mattered to their fans packed into the Anfield road end.

With owner Thaksin Shinawatra hell-bent on sacking the former England coach - seemingly against the wishes of virtually everyone else at Eastlands - those fans sang his name, hoisted 'Save our Sven' banners and made it perfectly clear who they were backing.

City fans even came up with an impressive version of a famous Pink Floyd song as 'Thaksin, leave our Sven alone' boomed across Anfield.

Eriksson waved obligingly, gave the thumbs up and bowed in appreciation to supporters who do not understand how a rare top half finish in the Premier League is not good enough.

Their team, who are believed to be upset by developments, responded with a confident display. City were quicker and sharper in the opening stages, Michael Johnson and Stephen Ireland impressing in midfield.

Liverpool had plenty of possession, but initially created nothing of substance, apart from a Babel header over.

Fernando Torres then saw an angled cross-shot skid just wide on the far post, while Steven Gerrard - from 30-yards out - had goalkeeper Joe Hart flying across his box.

Liverpool were now improving. When Insua's pass inside to Gerrard found his captain 20-yards out, a swerving shot forced Hart into an excellent save to his left.

After the break, only a fine interception from Vedran Corluka stopped Gerrard taking advantage of a clever Torres set-up, while Kuyt headed the resulting corner just wide.

Liverpool were much more positive now and Torres got away on the left from a superb Gerrard pass, but guided his shot just wide of the far post.

City responded with a fine Elano free-kick from 20-yards that hit Jose Reina's near post.

In the 58th minute however, Torres got his customary goal.

A poor Michael Ball clearance was headed back into the Spanish international's path, and he took on and beat Dunne before he angled his finish across Hart and into the far corner.

That goal meant Torres equalled the all-time Liverpool record of scoring in eighth successive home league game.

Roger Hunt, in Division Two in 1961-62, is the only other man to achieve the feat.

City then brought on ex-Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who was instrumental in their Champions League final victory in 2005, for Elano and the German received a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd.

Nery Castillo took over from Martin Petrov, with Liverpool replacing Babel with Benayoun.

Alonso and Andriy Voronin both got a late run-out in place of Lucas and Gerrard, but City made it clear this was not over when Benjani blasted in a 25-yard free-kick that Reina struggled to beat away.

City then sent on Javier Garrido for Darius Vassell. Torres was looking for more however, and having the beating for pace of Corluka and Dunne, he almost chipped Hart on the run.

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