Football: Liverpool end on a high note

Liverpool 3 Wimbledon 0
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The Independent Online
LIVERPOOL WAVED goodbye to Steve McManaman yesterday and at last gave their fans something to be pleased about.

Liverpool confidently swept Wimbledon aside, leaving the Kop singing at the end with the fans giving their team a standing ovation at the final whistle. They secured a seventh place finish, thus avoiding the embarrassment of their lowest top flight position since being promoted back in 1962.

McManaman walked quietly at the back with his friend Robbie Fowler as the team moved around the pitch, and as they reached the players' tunnel they all stood back and applauded the Real Madrid-bound midfielder from the pitch.

Liverpool's inability to handle any sort of aerial attack was always going to be tested by the Dons' tall strikers John Hartson, Marcus Gayle and Carl Cort. The examination came from the start and Hartson, Robbie Earle twice early on and Cort, with a far post header, failed to convert well worked openings.

Liverpool, though, were having one of those days when their passing game was at its best and the mobility of McManaman and Patrik Berger stretched Wimbledon's defence. McManaman was determined to make his farewell memorable. He worked both wings with pace and good vision, and hit the bar with a flicked header from Berger's cross after 19 minutes.

The first goal, after 11 minutes, came from a Paul Ince chip which Berger chested down to score.

McManaman played a major part in Liverpool's second five minutes after the break. He fed the ball into the six-yard box for Riedle to force home.

Goals: Berger 12 (1-0), Riedle 50 (2-0), Ince 65 (3-0).

Liverpool: Friedel, Staunton (Babb 46), Song (Heggem 85), Matteo, Carragher, Berger, Redknapp, Ince, Leonhardsen, McManaman, Riedle, Babb (Thompson 74). Substitutes not used: James, Bjornebye.

Wimbledon: Sullivan, Kimble, Perry, Blackwell, Cunningham, Kennedy, Earle, Roberts, Cort (Hughes 69), Hartson, Gayle. Substitutes not used: Heald, Leaburn, Castledine, Francis.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).

Booked: Liverpool: Riedle, Babb. Wimbledon: Roberts.

Man of the Match: Berger

Attendance: 41,902