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Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Rampant Reds sink Ipswich
John Arne Riise scored Liverpool's first
The superb Riise got Liverpool's first on 13 minutes
Liverpool 5-0 Ipswich

Liverpool made a mockery of their reputation for boring football with a vibrant display to claim second place, their highest finish in the Premier League era.

The crushing defeat condemned Ipswich to Division One, only one year after they had surprised the football world by finishing fifth in the top flight.

The victory means Liverpool now qualify automatically to the group stage of next season's Champions League - and finish above their deadly rivals Manchester United.

The only blot on Liverpool's - and England's - day was the first-half exit of Steven Gerrard with a groin strain.

  Key moments
13 mins: Riise opens scoring
20: Dudek makes great save from Darren Bent header
33: Gerrard off, Smicer on
35: Riise scores after Smicer run
38: Reuser hits post for Ipswich
46: Owen scores Reds' third
57: Smicer adds a fourth
82: McAllister replaces Murphy
88: Anelka completes scoring
Ipswich, looking for their third straight league win at Anfield, started the game brightly.

Needing a victory - and a Sunderland defeat - to maintain their Premiership status, the East Anglian side passed the ball around with characteristic neatness for the game's opening minutes.

But the visitors were rudely knocked off their stride by Liverpool's first move of any real threat.

Jamie Carragher and Danny Murphy combined down the left flank, before the ball was moved inside to Dietmar Hamann.

The German passed to Abel Xavier on the right flank, and he played a slide-rule pass - via a Michael Owen dummy - to the advancing John Arne Riise.

The versatile Norwegian took the pass in his stride and slammed the ball left-footed past the helpless Andy Marshall.

Ipswich boss George Burley
Ipswich boss Burley looked on helplessly
Worse was to follow for Ipswich on 35 minutes when Vladimir Smicer was allowed to carry the ball from deep in his own half.

The Czech was finally challenged on the edge of the Ipswich box, but the ball rolled to the rampaging Riise and he slammed a rasping left-foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Smicer had only been on the field for two minutes, as he had replaced Gerrard after the England star stretched his right groin muscle.

The substitution was described as "precautionary", and the player did not look to be in any pain, but Sven-Goran Eriksson will be justifiably concerned.

The good news, however, continued for the home side only one minute after the re-start.

First, Titus Bramble made a terrible mess of a Jerzy Dudek goal-kick to allow Owen in for Liverpool's third.

Smicer then rode his luck through two tackles before finishing expertly in the 57th minute.

Dietmar Hamann challenges Darren Bent
Hamann and Liverpool won the midfield tussle
It now looked like a question of when, rather than whether, Liverpool would score again - with Emile Heskey and Owen linking delightfully on more than one occasion.

The feel-good factor at Anfield was emphasised when Gary McAllister was brought on in the 82nd minute to make his last appearance in a Liverpool shirt before joining Coventry as player-manager.

But it was left to the late substitute Nicolas Anelka to put a seal on the game.

The on-loan striker, seeking a permanent move to Liverpool, converted Owen's superb through-ball to provide the most emphatic end to Ipswich's day and Premiership tenure.


Liverpool: Dudek, Xavier (Anelka 84), Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Murphy (McAllister 82), Gerrard (Smicer 33), Hamann, Riise, Heskey, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Arphexad, Vignal.

Ipswich: Marshall, Bramble, McGreal (Wilnis 39), Hreidarsson, Venus, Reuser, Holland, Tommy Miller, Clapham, Darren Bent (Stewart 69), Marcus Bent (Armstrong 82).
Subs Not Used: Sereni, Peralta.

Attendance: 44,088

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"This is Liverpool's highest ever Premiership finish"
Gary McAllister
"I've loved every second at Liverpool"
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