Gerrard begins farewell tour with rescue act at Wimbledon
Liverpool skipper scores twice to help Reds avoid a repeat of the 1988 final shock
Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 2. Two goals from Steven Gerrard took Liverpool into the fourth round of the FA Cup and ensured there was no repeat of Wimbledon's giant killing upset of 1988. The Crazy Gang's 1-0 defeat of the Reds in the final 27 years ago remains one of the cup's biggest shocks but Gerrard's brace buried AFC Wimbledon's hopes of repeating the feat.
The Liverpool captain, making his first appearance for the club since announcing his departure at the end of the season, turns 35 on 30 May, the same day as the FA Cup Final, and manager Brendan Rodgers hopes Gerrard will mark the end of his Liverpool career by lifting the trophy.
"There would be no better way for it to end," said Rodgers, adding: "Steven was outstanding. He gave a brilliant individual performance. He scored two and if he was a more selfish player he might have had a hat-trick."
It was a gutsy display from Wimbledon, currently 12th in League Two, and but for the calming influence of Gerrard they might have embarrassed their Premier League opponents. But the Liverpool captain gave his side the lead on 12 minutes, steering a low header past James Shea after running on to the end of Javier Manquillo's cross.
The visitors seemed in control thereafter but, not for the first time this season, an error from goalkeeper Simon Mignolet breathed life into the opposition. His failure to deal with George Francomb's corner on 36 minutes created a goalmouth scramble and Adebayo Akinfenwa was able to stab the ball into the Liverpool net.
After the break Gerrard was in action at both ends, first clearing off his own line as Adam Barrett came close to giving Wimbledon the lead. Having rescued his side, the veteran midfielder then gave them the lead with a curling free-kick on the hour mark that Shea was unable to reach. Gerrard was denied a hat-trick in injury time only by the last-ditch defending of Callum Kennedy.
Asked if he believes Liverpool can go all the way this season in the cup, Gerrard replied: "Hopefully that will be the case. It's what dreams are made of. I grew up loving the FA Cup and this is my last time, so I want to make the most of it and go all the way."
Liverpool's next opponents are Bolton, who visit Anfield at the end of the month. Other notable draws in the fourth round of the tournament are holders Arsenal's trip to Brighton, Manchester United's clash away at Cambridge and the Midlands Derby between West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham.