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Eriksson manages Liverpool to victory in legends charity match

Sven-Goran Eriksson realised his lifelong dream to manage Liverpool at Anfield as he took charge of the club for a charity legends game against Ajax on an emotional day in Merseyside.

The former England manager, who is a boyhood Liverpool fan, revealed his terminal cancer diagnosis in January, saying he has “at best, a year to live”.

Eriksson was invited by Liverpool to take charge of their legends side for this game alongside a coaching staff of Ian Rush, John Aldridge and John Barnes – and was given a standing ovation by the Anfield crowd as he came out of the tunnel.

As ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ rang out before kick-off, the 76-year-old cut an emotional figure while standing on the pitch next to former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who Eriksson managed while in charge of England.

Eriksson applauds the crowd
Image: Eriksson applauds the crowd before kick-off at Anfield

The charity match between Liverpool Legends and Ajax Legends was to raise money for the LFC Foundation and Forever Reds.

Fernando Torres – who started up front with Gerrard for Liverpool – rounded off a memorable afternoon by scoring the fourth goal in a 4-2 comeback win for the Liverpool Legends.

Derk Boerrigter and Kiki Musampa gave the Ajax Legends a comfortable lead at the break but Liverpool scored three times in front of the Kop End, thanks to goals from Gregory Vignal, Djibril Cisse and Nabil El Zhar and Torres.

“A memory for life,” said Eriksson to LFC TV after the game. “Everybody was the winner today. It was beautiful, absolutely incredible. Everything from You’ll Never Walk Alone to the rest of the match.

Eriksson, "still has the magic" according to Steven Gerrard
Image: Eriksson, “still has the magic” according to Steven Gerrard

“I think we were the better team even in the first half. You always worry that you lose, but it was a very good first half, an extremely good second half. But the big winners were all of us.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool captain for the day Gerrard paid tribute to Eriksson – and even said the former England manager as “still got the magic” after inspiring a second half comeback.

“He changed everything at half-time, he knew we had no width in the first half and we were trying to fit through the middle,” Gerrard said. “He made loads of changes at half-time and gave us more width.

“He’s still got it, he’s still got the magic. He made the difference.

“He was like Rafa at half-time, moving us about, changing the system, giving us more width and we got there in the end. The hairdryer treatment!

“Sven being here today was very special, as soon as I knew he was going to be the gaffer today, I couldn’t wait to come and play with him one last time.”

Pictures: Anfield salutes Eriksson

Eriksson was given a standing ovation by the Anfield crowd as he came out the tunnel
Image: Eriksson was given a standing ovation by the Anfield crowd as he came out of the tunnel
Eriksson cut an emotional figure as he was greeted by the Anfield crowd
Image: Eriksson cut an emotional figure as he was greeted by the Anfield crowd
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson stands alongside Steven Gerrard before kick off
Image: Eriksson stood alongside Steven Gerrard before kick-off

What happened in the match

Liverpool fell behind in the opening two minutes as Boerrigter tapped home – and the winger then set up the second before half-time by teeing up Musampa in the box, who fired past Jerzy Dudek.

The Reds were frustrated in the first half as Torres missed several chances, including seeing one shot cleared off the line. But Liverpool came back with a second half comeback.

Gregory Vignal celebrates with Eriksson scoring his goal
Image: Gregory Vignal celebrates with Eriksson scoring his goal

Vignal drilled home from inside the box to pull one back, with the Frenchman running over to Eriksson to celebrate the goal with a hug, before Cisse then headed home Dirk Kuyt’s cross to equalise.

A solo goal from El Zhar then gave Liverpool the lead but what the Anfield crowd really wanted was a Torres goal, in his first game back at Anfield in Liverpool colours since leaving the club in 2011.

Fernando Torres scored a popular goal in a 4-2 win for Liverpool
Image: Fernando Torres scored a popular goal in a 4-2 win for Liverpool

That came just before full-time as Torres finished at the second attempt to seal the win.

But the day belonged to Eriksson, who led both sets of players in a round of applause around Anfield, with the entire 60,000-seater stadium on its feet to applaud the former England manager.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source