Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Gerrard double rescues Reds against Wimbledon

LAST CHANCE:The Liverpool skipper is set to leave for the US at the end of the season and vowed to push to cap his glittering career with an FA Cup blaze of glory

Reuters and AFP, LONDON and URNLEY, United Kingdom

Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard scores from a free-kick in their FA Cup third-round match against AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow in London on Monday.

Photo: EPA

Captain Steven Gerrard scored twice to save Liverpool from FA Cup embarrassment and lead them into the fourth round after a tricky 2-1 win at fourth-tier AFC Wimbledon on Monday.

The Reds will move on to play second-tier Bolton Wanderers in the next round, but only after a night of living dangerously with determined League Two opponents who looked far from overawed.

“That was a very tough game,” Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers told the BBC. “We lost our sort of shape within the game and presented them with chances by giving the ball away.”

In his first match since announcing his departure for the US at the end of the season, Gerrard headed the opener in the 12th minute as Liverpool looked set for an easy win.

However, the match at Kingsmeadow refused to follow the script, reviving memories of 1988, when the original Wimbledon “Crazy Gang” beat Liverpool in a hard-tackling final at Wembley Stadium.

Wimbledon’s Adebayo Akinfenwa — a stocky striker nicknamed “The Beast” who is a lifelong Reds fan — had the home fans dreaming when he poked in a 36th-minute equalizer from close range after some woeful defending by the Merseyside club.

The hefty 32-year-old, who has played for 11 clubs in a journeyman career around the lower leagues, was perfectly placed to cash in after the ball bounced back off the bar following a goalmouth scramble.

With a major upset looking possible and Wimbledon missing several chances, Gerrard settled Liverpool nerves with a curling free-kick into the top corner in the 62nd minute.

“I always enjoy the FA Cup, I grew up loving the competition and to play in it. It’s going to be my last time and I want to make the most of it and try and go all the way,” the midfielder, who turns 35 on the day of the Cup final, told the BBC.

“It’s the beauty of the FA Cup,” Gerrard said of Wimbledon’s spirited performance. “It doesn’t matter where you are, in what league, form seems to go out of the window and it becomes a leveler.”

In the night’s other Cup match, Premier League strugglers Burnley fought back from a goal down at Turf Moor to draw 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur and force a replay to decide who takes on Leicester City.

Burnley’s match against in-form Spurs recalled the 1962 final won by Tottenham, but there was little glamor in a dire first half.

Spurs took the lead through a Nacer Chadli strike in the 52nd minute, but Sam Vokes side-footed in an equalizer in the 73rd.

“It was a lackluster game, with little atmosphere. We did everything to try and get a result,” said Burnley manager Sean Dyche of a match watched by a crowd of only 9,348 spectators.

Burnley rescued the draw as injury-plagued striker Vokes scored for the first time since March last year at Turf Moor.

Vokes came off the bench for only his second appearance of the season after a battle to recover from a ruptured cruciate knee ligament.

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