There will be no fairytale end to Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career after Aston Villa came from behind to deservedly book their place in the FA Cup final with a 2-1 win over the Reds.
Wembley was supposed to be the scene for Gerrard’s grand send-off, with the final falling on his 35th birthday and supposedly destined to be the last game of his long Anfield career before embarking on a new challenge with LA Galaxy.
Instead, the national stadium proved to be another venue where Liverpool came up short, just like last season at Anfield against Chelsea and Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace when their title challenge faltered.
It was a familiar foe who set the wheels of defeat in motion as rejuvenated Belgium striker Christian Benteke, who memorably terrorised Liverpool’s defence with a two-goal show at Anfield in December 2012, cancelled out Philippe Coutinho’s opener with his ninth goal in his last seven games.
Fabian Delph’s strike 10 minutes into the second half booked Villa’s first FA Cup final appearance since 2000 as Liverpool’s pressure was too little and far too late.