Stoke City manager Mark Hughes was thrilled with his side’s performance as they ended the 2014-15 Premier League season in style with a 6-1 hammering of Liverpool.
Hughes’ men came into Sunday’s clash at the Britannia Stadium with little to play for, with a ninth-placed finish already assured regardless of the result.
But Stoke took full advantage of a sloppy Liverpool display to score five times in the first half without reply.
Steven Gerrard, on his final Liverpool appearance, netted a consolation in the second half, before Peter Crouch rounded off the scoring with four minutes to go.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to a really great season,” Hughes said. “The level of performance in the first 45 minutes was exceptional.
“I don’t think it reflects badly on Liverpool, I think most teams would have struggled to cope with the quality and intensity of our play.
“I sensed this week there was a real focus on finishing on a high, it’s been a great season and we’ve done a lot of things that haven’t been done here before.
“Getting beat on your last game at home is a damp squib and we didn’t want that.
“It was a great performance against a very good team. The key next year is to do that on a regular basis and see where it takes us. It puts everybody in good heart and we look forward to next season, after a holiday.”
Hughes also had words of praise for Gerrard, who is set to depart for MLS side LA Galaxy after a distinguished career at Anfield.
“I’m sure Steven wasn’t anticipating that was going to be the manner of his last performance but credit to him, as always he was trying to drive his team on,” Hughes said.
“It was great that he got the reception from our supporters [after his goal], it was only right and proper that we recognised the impact he’s had in English football and at his club.
“I wish him well, he’s been a credit to the sport in this country and to his club and I hope he does great.”