Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher bows out on high
The game vs QPR brought down the curtain on the 35-year-old defender's illustrious career, and he was afforded a guard of honour from both sets of teams before being handed a memento from the opposition's Liverpool-born captain Clint Hill.
Liverpool gave retiring stalwart Jamie Carragher a fitting send off by beating the Premier League's bottom club QPR 1-0 at an emotional Anfield on Sunday.
The game brought down the curtain on the 35-year-old defender's illustrious career, and he was afforded a guard of honour from both sets of teams before being handed a memento from the opposition's Liverpool-born captain Clint Hill.
Supporters on the Kop created a mosaic in tribute to the popular defender, who played 38 times for England and was making his 737th and final appearance for his only club.
Carragher, who will become a television pundit next season, was urged to shoot whenever he had possession in the opposition half and almost crowned the perfect day with a long-range shot that hit a post in the second half.
But the home team had to be content with a first-half goal from Philippe Coutinho to ensure their season ended on a winning note.
Liverpool were already guaranteed to finish seventh in manager Brendan Rodgers' first season thanks to an unbeaten run of eight games since March 16.
QPR, by contrast, had long known they would be relegated to the Championship after two seasons, despite significant investment under manager Harry Redknapp.
Only an error from the officials prevented the home team from making a dream start on Sunday.
Coutinho's fine diving header from a Stewart Downing's corner in the second minute was over the line before QPR defender Michael Harriman hacked clear.
Television replays confirmed the crowd's suspicion but neither referee Martin Atkinson nor his linesman had a clear enough view to award the goal.
The celebration of Carragher's career inevitably lent an end-of-season air to the game.
But Jordan Henderson was booked after just seven minutes for upending Park Ji-Sung as a reminder that three points were still at stake.
Coutinho, one of the January signings that lifted Liverpool's season, went close again with a run and shot that was deflected past a post by a defender.
The Brazilian, who joined in a £8million deal from Inter Milan, eventually found the net after 22 minutes with a precise low drive from 30 yards which creeped just inside goalkeeper Robert Green's right-hand post.
The referee appeared to be caught up in the mood after he failed to caution Carragher for a glaring handball during an aerial clash with Green.
QPR, with only three League wins in a sorry campaign, offered little by way of attacking threat, although an elusive Armande Traore cross caused concern before Jose Enrique tidied up.
Downing showed a fine burst of pace to break into the penalty area and shot against the outside of a post as Liverpool looked to seal the result on the hour.
The sell-out 44,792 Anfield crowd's wishes almost came true on 61 minutes when Carragher unleashed a fine shot from 30 yards that rebounded off a post with Green well beaten.
As it was, they had to be content with the long, standing ovation he was given when being replaced by Sebastian Coates in the 85th minute.