1. Steven Gerrard burst into tears
One of the most iconic images in English football is that of Sir Bobby Charlton weeping at the final whistle after England beat Germany 4-2 to win the World Cup in 1966. He later said the tears were spurred by memories of playing football as a child—”I never cried when we lost.” That feeling after an incredible, long sought after win is what players wait their whole careers for.
Steven Gerrard has played his whole career at Liverpool. Against age, a more withdrawn playing role, and much cynicism, particularly outside the red half of Liverpool, the 33 year old midfielder is still at the heart of the club. He has won every honour except that which defined Liverpool going back to the Shankly era—the league itself.
On Sunday against one of their major title challengers in Manchester City, who fought back in the second half after conceding twice in the first 45 minutes, Liverpool earned a narrow 3-2 victory after Coutinho took advantage of a Kompany error to score in the 78th minute. Moreover, the win came on the 25th anniversary of one of the most horrifying days in the history of the English game, Hillsborough, which took the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters who went together to see a football match and never came home. Whatever the outcome, Sunday’s post-match celebrations will cap Gerrard’s legacy.
At the post match huddle, Gerrard urged his teammates: “Listen, this is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. Come on!” There are four games left…
2. Sterling’s opener against City
A simple thing of beauty.
3. Fabianksi’s penalty performance for Arsenal against Wigan in the FA Cup semi
Yes, Arsenal should arguably have been nowhere near needing extra time or penalties against Wigan following a narrow 1-1 draw, as talented as Uwe Rösler’s side have been in the FA Cup this season (they’re also battling for a promotion playoff spot in the Championship). Yet keeper Lukasz Fabianksi reasserted Arsenal’s dominance in one of the less dramatic shootouts in recent memory, no doubt helped by some crap spot kicks from Caldwell and Collison. A good day for second choice keepers everywhere.
4. Dortmund play for pride against Bayern and win 0-3
Bayern Munich’s long victory lap in the Bundesliga hasn’t exactly gone spectacularly well, with a draw and two losses since the German giants won the league. Perhaps buoyed by a stellar performance against European favourites Real Madrid in the Champions League, some of the old Klopp magic kicked in for their visit to the Allianz as Dortmund knocked three past Manuel Neuer before the hour mark. Oh, and it was also the worst loss of Pep Guardiola’s career.
Will Bayern resting on its haunches have consequences for Bayern’s semi against Real Madrid? Well, the defending on Mkhitaryan’s opener was awful, leaving the player with the expanse of Bayern’s right for him to shoot. Bayern also didn’t track back well to defend the second, neatly slotted in by Reus on the counter. Finally, Jonas Hoffman practically waltzed in space a la 2001 to score the third, from an over the top pass. So, maybe there are few issues?
5. La Liga blown wide open at the top
After a 1-0 loss to Granada, several cules boldly predicted the end of Tata Martino’s tenure as Barcelona coach. But the loss also opened up the possibility of an even stronger lead for Atletico at the top of La Liga, should they beat Getafe later in the weekend. Which they did, courtesy of two goals from Diego Costa, who was stretchered off the pitch after a collision with the goal post, putting his future in doubt and possibly Atleti’s chances. Real Madrid for their part destroyed Almeria 4-0 at the Bernebeu, with Benzema providing some of the missing link up play during Real’s 2-0 midweek Champions League loss against Dortmund.
So, the net result of all of this? I have no clue who’s going to win the league. Wouldn’t bet on Barca though.
6. The best moon shot of all time
7. Hernanes crawls on all fours against Samp
Walter Mazzarri’s Inter haven’t had a stellar season by any means but they put in an excellent effort in a 0-4 victory over Sampdoria, with two goals from Mauro Icardi. Particularly good was Inter’s midfielder Hernanes, who promised earlier last week that Inter’s downslide would soon be over. So dedicated was he literally crawled on all fours to retrieve the ball in the midfield.
8. Robbie Keane scores a lovely winner against the Vancouver Whitecaps
I like this goal because it demonstrates the key necessity for the long ball—a player with the skill set of Ishizaki who can take it down in two touches and cross with pin point accuracy.