Reds see off lacklustre City
Liverpool could easily have had more
Liverpool piled more pressure on Sven Goran Eriksson with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Anfield.
Fernando Torres was the hero once again for the home side against a City team which never managed to get out of first gear.
With neither side having any reason to open up and express themselves, the first-half proved to be a mundane affair encompassing all the attributes of an end-of-season stroll in the park.
Liverpool dominated possession without really threatening, while City looked happy to set up camp in front of their own box and grind out a result.
The hosts came closest to breaking the deadlock just after the half-hour mark, but Steven Gerrard's curling effort was brilliantly kept out by the fingertips of Joe Hart.
The second period provided much more in terms of entertainment, and it was Liverpool who made the breakthrough on 58 minutes through Torres.
The Spaniard drifted past Richard Dunne with ease, before slotting a low drive into the bottom corner past a helpless Hart.
Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Javier Mascherano all had golden opportunities to double the Reds' lead, but the scoreline remained unchanged.
Nery Castillo added some life to a lacklustre City side as a late substitute, and he almost made Liverpool pay for their wastefulness in front of goal with two half chances towards the end.
For Liverpool, this was just a game for pride with nothing else now to play for with their European exit.
But for City, the game had taken on a whole new dimension. The future of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was all that mattered to their fans packed into the Anfield road end.
With owner Thaksin Shinawatra hell-bent on sacking the former England coach - seemingly against the wishes of virtually everyone else at Eastlands - those fans sang his name, hoisted 'Save our Sven' banners and made it perfectly clear who they were backing.
Eriksson waved obligingly, gave the thumbs up and bowed in appreciation to supporters who do not understand how a rare top half finish in the Premier League is not good enough.
And their team, who are believed to be upset by developments, responded with a confident display. City were quicker and sharper in the opening stages, Michael Johnson and Stephen Ireland impressing in midfield.
Liverpool had plenty of possession, but initially created nothing of substance, apart from a Babel header over.
Torres then saw an angled cross-shot skid just wide on the far post, while Steven Gerrard - from 30-yards out - had goalkeeper Hart flying across his box.
Liverpool were now improving. And when Emiliano Insua's pass inside to Gerrard found his captain 20-yards out, a swerving shot forced Hart into an excellent save to his left.
After the break, only a fine interception from Vedran Corluka stopped Gerrard taking advantage of a clever Torres set-up, while Kuyt headed the resulting corner just wide.
Liverpool were much more positive now and Torres got away on the left from a superb Gerrard pass, but guided his shot just wide of the far post.
City responded with a fine Elano free-kick from 20-yards that hit Jose Reina's near post.
But in the 58th minute, Torres got his customary goal.
A poor Michael Ball clearance was headed back into the Spanish international's path, and he took on and beat Dunne before he angled his finish across Hart and into the far corner.
City then brought on ex-Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who was instrumental in their Champions League final victory in 2005, for Elano and the German received a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd.
Nery Castillo took over from Martin Petrov, with Liverpool replacing Babel with Benayoun.
Xabi Alonso and Andriy Voronin both got a late run-out in place of Lucas and Gerrard, but City made it clear this was not over when Benjani blasted in a 25-yard free-kick that Reina struggled to beat away.
City then sent on Javier Garrido for Darius Vassell. But Torres was looking for more, and having the beating for pace of Corluka and Dunne, he almost chipped Hart on the run.
Liverpool Team Statistics Manchester City
1 Goals 0
0 1st Half Goals 0
8 Shots on Target 2
10 Shots off Target 1
7 Blocked Shots 2
12 Corners 5
10 Fouls 5
5 Offsides 1
0 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
74.8 Passing Success 73.6
39 Tackles 32
51.3 Tackles Success 78.1
52.8 Possession 47.2
53.8 Territorial Advantage 46.2