Like he's done so many times before, Steven Gerrard pulled his club to victory despite his team being outplayed for long stretches at a time. Liverpool's 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon thanks to two Gerrard goals was enough to see the Merseyside club into the next round of the FA Cup, and with it came the revival — or confirmation, depending on your view — of some of the classic narratives surrounding Liverpool's long time captain.
The announcement that Gerrard would leave Liverpool at season's end prompted an outpouring of sentiment from football fans around the world, not least of which was the idea that Liverpool must do their utmost to make sure to send their captain off in style. The league title Gerrard has always craved is likely to be out of reach by this point, but there are still a handful of domestic and continental cups up for grabs, and Brendan Rodgers thinks one in particular might be fitting for this occasion.
"I think the FA Cup final is on [Gerrard's] birthday, so there would be no better way, for him [to end his Liverpool career," Rodgers said after the win over Wimbledon. "It would be a wonderful send-off for him. There are a lot of games to play in between. If we could do it, it will be really special.
"He was outstanding in the game, a brilliant individual performance from him and the real catalyst for us. It was a tough game overall. In the second half we were much better, he scored two and probably if he was a really selfish player he would have stayed on the ball and got a hat-trick. He was outstanding but he’s still trying to create opportunities for other players."
Winning the FA Cup on the captain's thirty-fifth birthday in his last match as a Liverpool player would be quite the swansong for Gerrard, but if Liverpool are to make that dream a reality, they'll need to muster a stronger performance against Bolton than the one they put out today against Wimbledon.