Goalscorers: Mame Biram Diouf 22, 26, Jonathan Walters 30, Charlie Adam 41, Steven N’Zonzi 45, Steven Gerrard 70, Peter Crouch 86
Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa (Marc Wilson 71), Ryan Shawcross, Erik Pieters, Glenn Whelan, Steven N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam, Jonathan Walters (Peter Odemwingie 67), Mame Biram Diouf, Marko Arnautovic (Peter Crouch 81)
Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Emre Can (Kolo Toure 45), Alberto Moreno (Jordon Ibe 45), Lucas, Joe Allen (Rickie Lambert 69), Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho
Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 38,216
The final day of the 2014-2015 season is a day Stoke City fans will never forget and a day that goes down as Liverpool FC’s darkest in Premier League history. It was one of those scorelines where you have to read it again and check it wasn’t a misprint.
It was meant to be a fond farewell for Liverpool FC skipper Steven Gerrard. Gerrard had announced five months earlier that he was going to leave Merseyside and finish his career in the United States with LA Galaxy. His 710th and final appearance for his boyhood club is one he will want to erase from his memory.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was already under pressure after an underwhelming campaign that had seen the Reds slip from a title near-miss in 2013-2014 to a distant fifth place coming into the match. The club were also caught up in a contract wrangling mess with young starlet Raheem Sterling, who had submitted a transfer request earlier in the week. Rodgers wanted to show who was boss. Sterling sat all afternoon on the bench as an unused substitute. He would never play for the club again.
However, after a pitiful first 45 minutes, Rodgers probably wanted a hole to open up inside the Britannia Stadium and for him to jump into it. Liverpool caved in spectacularly and became the first side to trail by five goals at half-time in a Premier League game since Burnley went into the dressing room 5-0 down against Manchester City in April 2010.
Mame Biram Diouf opened the scoring on 22 minutes. He was quickest to react after Charlie Adam’s shot had been parried by Simon Mignolet. Four minutes later, he was given lots of space and tried his luck – successfully to put Stoke in a commanding position. Mark Hughes’ side had the game all but wrapped up by the half-hour mark. Lax defending from emergency centre-back Emre Can allowed Jonathan Walters to pounce and score his first goal since a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers at the end of January. Defeat for Liverpool was turning into annihilation. Adam made it 4-0; cashing in on sloppy play from Lucas to smash the ball past Mignolet from 20-yards out. Just before half-time, Steven N’Zonzi scored his fourth goal of the season with a thumping drive that no goalkeeper would have saved. Stoke supporters were on cloud nine.
Rodgers sent Can and the hapless Alberto Moreno packing at half-time and there was a slender improvement in the second half. Gerrard raced clear in the 70th minute and scored his 186th and final goal for the club but he had little to celebrate. There was still enough time for former Reds striker Peter Crouch to score a trademark header and make it 6-1. It was Crouch’s 47th headed goal in the Premier League, breaking a record previously set by Alan Shearer.
Stoke finished ninth with a record points tally of 54 points. It was the first time Liverpool FC had let six goals in during a league match in 52 years. They dropped to sixth and after a poor start to the following campaign, Rodgers was sacked in early October.
It was a sorry end to Gerrard’s LFC career but a joyous day for everyone connected with Stoke City.