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Gerrard brace gets Reds out of trouble

Gerrard brace gets Reds out of trouble
Playing in his first game since announcing that he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, Gerrard put the visitors ahead with a 12th-minute header at the 4,850-capacity Kingsmeadow stadium in south-west London.

Wimbledon’s man-mountain centre-forward Adebayo Akinfenwa, a Liverpool fan, stabbed home a 36th-minute equaliser, but Gerrard netted a fine free-kick in the second half to earn Brendan Rodgers’s side a home tie with Bolton Wanderers in round four.

Gerrard’s strike prevented Neil Ardley’s hosts from emulating the original Wimbledon’s famous 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final, when Lawrie Sanchez scored the only goal and Dave Beasant saved a penalty from John Aldridge.

But despite defeat, the night proved a triumph for the club, which was formed by supporters in 2002 after Wimbledon were moved 56 miles (90 kilometres) north to Milton Keynes and rebranded as Milton Keynes Dons after failing to find a new ground in the local area. Having started life in the ninth tier of the English league system, AFC Wimbledon have been promoted five times in the last 11 years and were appearing in the third round for the first time. Although Rodgers named a strong team, showing only four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Leicester City on New Year’s Day, it was the hosts who threatened first, with Sean Rigg running onto Matt Tubbs’s flick-on and dragging a shot across goal.

But it was Liverpool who took the lead, with Gerrard spraying a pass wide to right wing-back Javi Manquillo before steaming into the box to meet the Spaniard’s cross with a stooping header. Lazar Markovic then flashed a cross-shot wide of the Wimbledon goal, but having tested Liverpool’s strength, the home side began to make inroads, abetted by some dangerously sloppy defending.

Wimbledon, 72 places below Liverpool in the league pyramid, threatened to create a sensation early in the second period, with Gerrard obliged to clear a header from Adam Barrett off his own line and Rigg blazing over after stealing past Emre Can. But a foul on Philippe Coutinho by Barry Fuller on the edge of the Wimbledon box gave Gerrard a chance to restore the visitors’ lead and he took it, arcing a trademark free-kick into the top-left corner.
AFP

AFP

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