LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER UNITED
( Kuyt 34th, 39th and 65th ; Hernandez 90+2)
By Karan Kandalia
Dirk Kuyt scored a hat-trick to blow the premier league title race wide open as Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 win over leaders Manchester united at Anfield on Sunday.
United went into the game knowing that victory would earn them a six-point lead over Arsenal at the summer with nine games remaining.
But Kuyt ‘s treble condemned Alex Ferguson’s side to back-to-back premier league defeats for the first time in two years after their midweek loss at Chelsea.
United are locked on 18 domestic league titles with Liverpool but the Merseyside were clearly in no mood to help their bitter rivals towards a 19th record success.
Kuyt put Liverpool in control with 2 goals in five minutes towards the end of the first half and he scored his third in the 65th minute before Javier Hernandez’s late effort for United. And Liverpool, who climbed to sixth in the table were able to give their 35 million signing Andy Carroll his long awaited debut as the striker, fit after a thigh injury, came on for the final 15 minutes.
Ferguson went into this game leading Dalglish 7-4 ahead of the 20th meeting between the two Scottish mangers. Ferguson also won the tactical battle between the pair when united defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the FA cup two months ago in what was Dalglish’s first match back since returning to the Anfield hot seat. But there was a REVENGE in the Merseyside air as Kuyt’s first half double put the hosts in command.
United were missing their first choice central defensive pairing of Nemanja Vidic , who was suspended , and Rio Ferdinand , who was injured, forcing ferguson to field Wes Brown alongside Chris Smalling. And the inexperienced partnership was immediately tested as Luis Suarez, twice, and Maxi Rodriguez both had efforts before Dimitar Berbatov was denied by the post in what on after his X-rated challenge on Lucas in the 44th minute.
United desperately needed a goal in the second half and they nearly got one when Berbatov’s 58th minute header was heading for the net only to be chested off the line by Raul Meireles. But Liverpool survived and seven minutes later confirmed their fifth win in nine premier league games since Dalglish returned when Kuyt completed his hat-trick.
Once again Suarez was again involved as his curling free-kick was beaten away by Van der Sar into the path of Kuyt to become the first Liverpool player since Peter Beardsley in 1990 to score 3 against United.
There was still time for Carroll to come off the bench and make his long awaited debut in the 74th minute before substitute Hernandez scored in stoppage time with a glancing header.