Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1
Steven Gerrard will not be Liverpool’s saviour this season after a 1-1 draw at Premier League champions Chelsea effectively ended the visitors’ hopes of a top-four finish.
Liverpool needed to inflict Chelsea’s first home loss in the league this season to keep their slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League alive, but the visitors fell behind to John Terry’s header after five minutes.
Gerrard, described by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as a “dear enemy” ahead of their final bout, equalised with a header before half-time, but it was not enough for the Reds at Stamford Bridge.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with two games to play and a goal difference of 14 to overcome, meaning they will almost certainly be playing Europa League football next term.
Gerrard plays his final game at Anfield next Saturday against Crystal Palace before leaving for Major League Soccer, while Chelsea’s victory tour continues at West Brom on Monday week.
Terry’s season will finish by lifting the Premier League trophy on May 24, something Gerrard will now never do.
The Blues last season ended Liverpool’s hopes of a first championship in 24 years and Gerrard has not been allowed to forget it.
Gerrard’s slip allowed Demba Ba to score in that fateful fixture at Anfield and he was the subject of plenty of songs on Sunday.
Mourinho subsequently spoke of football’s authorities wanting Chelsea to be “the clowns in the circus” on a day which felt like a coronation for Liverpool in a fixture which came in close proximity to the Blues’ Champions League semi-final.
Twelve months on and it was Liverpool – unchanged following their win over QPR - who felt like clowns, standing either side of a blue carpet to form a guard of honour.
Terry scored with ease, with Gerrard taking advantage of similarly slack marking in a contest which lacked the usual intensity between these familiar enemies.
Gerrard was replaced 11 minutes from time, with Mourinho leading the applause, which swiftly drowned out the boos, as the match ended level.