May 19, 2013
Carragher bows out in style
#INSERT type:image caption: Jamie Carragher was the centre of attention as Liverpool ended their season with a win. END#Forward Philippe Coutinho was Liverpool's matchwinner, but Jamie Carragher was the star of the show at Anfield as he made his 737th and final appearance for the club in a 1-0 win against QPR.
The veteran centre-back brought down the curtain on a first-team career spanning 16 years and 131 days - the seventh-longest in the club's history.
- Smith: Painful season ends with unsurprising whimper for QPR
- Whalley: Jamie Carragher bows out on a high
Such is the 35-year-old's longevity that he has served under six different permanent managers at Anfield, and his influence on the team during that time cannot be underestimated.
And while the day was rightly a celebration of his achievements, the fact the game had the slight feeling of a testimonial would not have impressed the ultra-competitive, ultra-professional Carragher.
Coutinho's sweet strike after 23 minutes provided the only goal, but the difference between the two sides was huge and Liverpool should have put a hatful past relegated QPR.
There was a sense of out with the old and in with the new as 17-year-old Jordon Ibe, signed from the Wycombe academy, made his debut.
The youngster was 13 months old when Carragher made his first Liverpool appearance, but was not over-awed and provided the assist for the opening goal.
Cutting in from the left, he teed up Coutinho to fire home a low shot from 25 yards.
The Brazilian should already have had one to his name as, in the opening couple of minutes, his low, diving header from Stewart Downing's corner was cleared by full-back Michael Harriman but only after it appeared to have crossed the line.
Coutinho, Liverpool's player of the second half of the season after arriving from Inter Milan for £8.5 million in January, also almost scored direct from a corner and had a shot blocked by Shaun Derry.
Despite QPR's lack of real attacking thrust, Carragher continued to be the focus - although trying to add to his career tally of just five goals by attempting to punch a cross past Robert Green would hardly have been fitting.
Referee Michael Atkinson contributed to the convivial atmosphere by opting not to book the centre-back, who then saw a shot blocked from a rehearsed Downing short free-kick.
Loic Remy provided the visitors' only threat and, after an early shout for a penalty, fired one shot wide and then miskicked from close range trying to convert Armand Traore's cross.
With the Championship looming, QPR did not seem interested in making a fight of it and Liverpool attacked at will after the break.
Glen Johnson's shot deflected wickedly off Derry but Green reacted quickly enough to push it around the post, while Daniel Sturridge's goalbound volley hit Traore and Downing fired into the side-netting.
All afternoon, the Kop had been urging Carragher to shoot - from a varying degree of ridiculous angles and distances - but he declined them all until just past the hour.
The ball dropped to him 25 yards out and he smashed a first-time effort that cannoned back off the post with Green well beaten.
But it is not his goals for which he will be remembered - highlighted by the statistic that, since he returned to the first team in January Liverpool have lost just one of 15 league games, conceding 12 goals.
And his attitude in that respect was typified when he outsprinted Remy to prevent the ball going out for a corner by mere inches and direct it back to goalkeeper Jose Reina.
He was substituted for Sebastian Coates five minutes from time to a standing ovation, but the old warhorse would much rather have seen out time on the pitch than take the applause - however deserved it was.
|Liverpool||Queens Park Rangers|
|Philippe Coutinho (23')|
|Liverpool||Queens Park Rangers|
|25 Pepe Reina||1 Robert Green|
|23 Jamie Carragher||6 Clint Hill|
|37 Martin Skrtel||15 Nedum Onuoha|
|3 José Enrique||3 Armand Traore|
|2 Glen Johnson||27 Michael Harriman|
|10 Philippe Coutinho||40 Stéphane M'Bia|
|21 Lucas||4 Shaun Derry|
|14 Jordan Henderson||7 Park Ji-Sung|
|15 Daniel Sturridge||29 Andros Townsend|
|44 Jordan Ibe||25 Bobby Zamora|
|19 Stewart Downing||18 Loïc Remy|
|1 Brad Jones||Brian Murphy 26|
|11 Oussama Assaidi||Jay Bothroyd 37|
|29 Fabio Borini||Esteban Granero 14|
|16 Sebastián Coates||David Hoilett 23|
|47 Andre Wisdom||Fabio 20|
|35 Conor Coady||Max Ehmer 28|
|30 Suso||Jamie Mackie 12|
|Fabio Borini for Jordan Ibe (64)||Esteban Granero for Stéphane M'Bia (45)|
|Suso for Philippe Coutinho (75)||Jamie Mackie for Bobby Zamora (73)|
|Sebastián Coates for Jamie Carragher (86)||David Hoilett for Park Ji-Sung (80)|
|Jordan Henderson (8)||Clint Hill (32)|
|Shaun Derry (67)|
|Andros Townsend (72)|
|· Squads: Liverpool | Queens Park Rangers|