Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United Match Report
Liverpool at home to Manchester United is always an emotional encounter, but this time it was even more so, with Liverpool playing their first match at Anfield since the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report was released. Both managers called for respect from both sets of supporters as the rivalry has recently got very bitter with disgusting chants relating to the tragedies that both clubs have suffered.
Brendan Rodgers made a number of changes to the team that played against Young Boys on Thursday, with first team regulars Reina, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly, Johnson, Allen, Gerrard, Sterling and Suarez coming back into the side after being rested.
Before the game got underway red and white coloured leaflets were raised by the Kop and sections of the Centenary and Anfield Road stands, portraying three simple yet poignant messages: ‘The Truth’, ‘Justice’ and ’96′.
To commemorate the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report, the mosaic was held as You’ll Never Walk Alone rang around Anfield and remained in place for the first minute of the game.
Liverpool started the match brightly and Suarez went close when he smashed the ball across goal which Lindegaard got a hand to as Gerrard looked to finish off the move.
Borini was then denied after Suarez pivoted sharply and threaded an instinctive pass between a wall of United defenders for him to chase. However, when the Italian found himself a yard clear of any marker and clean through on goal, his first touch was too heavy and Lindegaard was out quickly to smother his effort.
With Liverpool dominating possession Gerrard side footed into the side netting after a short free-kick. Then Evans bundled Agger to the ground in the penalty box, but referee Halsey waved away Liverpool’s appeals.
Suarez slalomed towards the United goal as defenders swarmed around him in an attempt to pre-empt his next move. The Uruguayan shuffled the ball onto his right foot and tried to whip it into the top corner of Lindegaard’s net but his strike dipped over the bar.
United seemed content on defending deep and trying to hit Liverpool on the break, but they continued to give possession back to Liverpool.
However, on 38 minutes Anfield was stunned when Shelvey launched himself into a 50-50 challenge with Evans and Halsey deemed him to have come over the ball with two feet and the midfielder was sent off.
Deflated only momentarily, the home side refused to surrender momentum. Suarez sent a free-kick crashing towards Lindegaard’s left but the ‘keeper was down smartly to parry. Allen fed a pass into Borini, who cut the ball back from the touchline but no Liverpool player could turn home his inviting pass.
Suso came on for Liverpool to start the second half and he made an immediate impact being involved in the move that led to the opening goal. His attempted cross was blocked and Johnson picked up possession. The full-back darted into the United penalty area where the ball bobbled up to Gerrard. The skipper controlled with his chest before volleying left-footed into the corner of Lindegaard’s net.
Anfield was rocking, but it was stunned into silence 4 minutes later when Rafael curled an effort into the top corner past Reina from just inside the box.
On the hour mark Suarez let the ball roll across his body as he swivelled on the edge of the penalty area and fired low towards the corner of Lindegaard’s goal. Once again, however, the ‘keeper was not found wanting as he palmed the ball to safety.
United crept back into the game as time wore on. Alex Ferguson’s men looked more dangerous on the ball as van Persie lurked on the shoulder of the Liverpool defence.
And despite a short spell of possession for the home side, Antonio Valencia seized upon a mix-up for the Reds and ran half the length of the field before going to ground in the box.
Reina was booked, a penalty awarded and Van Persie side-footed the ball home to give United the lead.
Liverpool tried to respond in the latter stages with Kelly going close with a header, but United held out for their first victory at Anfield in the league since 2007.
A very emotional day today and tremendous tributes and respect shown by both teams and supporters prior to kick-off. Great to see Suarez and Evra finally shake hands too. Liverpool played very well and deserved to take something from the match, but when you are struggling things don’t go your way and the two big refereeing decisions went against Liverpool. Evans could very easily have been sent off with his two footed challenge with Shelvey and Valencia went to ground very easily at the penalty. Great goal from Gerrard and some good performances by Suarez, Allen and Kelly was superb, young Suso did brilliantly when coming on too. But another defeat and now Liverpool are in the bottom three and need to start winning very soon.