Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool Match Report
Only two weeks after facing each other in the FA Cup United and Liverpool squared up to each other again, this time at Old Trafford. Both teams had plenty to play for, with United chasing the league title and Liverpool chasing a top four place. This would also be the first time Suarez could face United and Patrice Evra since serving his eight match ban.
Liverpool made four changes to the team that faced Spurs last Monday with Dalglish bringing back Henderson, Downing, Enrique and Luis Suarez, with Carroll, Bellamy, Adam and Kelly missing out. Liverpool’s strong and settled defence was regrouped with Enrique being passed fit to play alongside Johnson, Agger and Skrtel. Downing, Spearing, Henderson, Gerrard and Kuyt formed a five man midfield, with Suarez playing up front alone.
Emotions were higher than usual with Suarez being named in Liverpool’s line-up, and he lit the touch paper by refusing to shake hands with Evra before the match. Evra almost got revenge in the first minute when Suarez rushed on to a loose ball but as Evra committed himself to the challenge he ended up colliding with Ferdinand in a nasty looking collision, thankfully no one was seriously injured.
Liverpool started on the offensive and Johnson stung De Gea’s hands with an effort before Rooney tested Reina. Then Johnson went very close with a curling effort, just missing the far post. But United started to dominate possession as the minutes ticked by and Rafael brought out another save from Reina with a curling effort.
Liverpool were struggling to mount any attacks as United dominated and the Liverpool defence were opened up when Giggs picked out Scholes on the edge of the six yard box, but the veteran’s close range header was straight at Reina who managed to save. Evra then headed a Valencia cross over before Gerrard had a long range shot deflected just over De Gea’s bar and then Skrtel volleyed over just before half-time. There was a moment of controversy right on the stroke of half-time when Suarez was tackled by Ferdinand as he raced through on goal, the Liverpool striker felt he had been fouled by the England defender.
It took only two minutes of the second half for the deadlock to be broken when a Giggs’ corner was flicked on at the near post by Henderson and sweeped the ball home from close range by Rooney. Things got worse for Liverpool two minutes later when Valencia robbed Spearing of possession 25 yards out before setting up Rooney who slid the ball past Reina.
Dalglish brought on Bellamy and Adam for Downing and Spearing to try and get back into the game, but Liverpool rarely threatened until they pulled a goal back with 10 minutes left when Adam’s free-kick fell into the path of Suarez who prodded home from close range. It made for a nervy ending for the home side but the closest Liverpool came to equalising was in stoppage time when Johnson’s shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly tipped over the bar by De Gea.
I thought Dalglish got his team wrong by leaving out Bellamy and Carroll and he should have left Suarez out of the side to rule out any more controversy, plus Suarez must be lacking in match fitness. Suarez was out of order not shaking hands with Evra and he has embarrassed everyone connected with the club. Liverpool set up far too defensively and got deeper as the match went on. Liverpool’s passing was unbelievably poor and I include Gerrard in this. But I was so disappointed with the lack of hunger and appetite for this match, against our biggest rivals. Liverpool were second best all day long.
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