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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Manchester United Vs. Liverpool Match Result Report

United moved back to the top of the table above Arsenal and one, significant step closer to a 19th championship and record fourth consecutive Premier League title with this well-deserved 2-1 win over fierce rivals Liverpool.

It was hearts-in-mouths time after just five minutes when Fernando Torres put the visitors in front with a free header. But United recovered when Wayne Rooney scored the rebound from his saved penalty kick six minutes later. From then on Sir Alex Ferguson’s men dominated, and the winner arrived after an hour when Ji-sung Park’s diving header sent Old Trafford into delirious celebration.

Liverpool have won the last three of these fixtures, United suffering the ignominy of a 4-1 defeat on home turf here last season. Settling that score itself may have formed a significant part of Sir Alex’s pre-match team-talk. But there was a wider focus for United than one-upmanship over a local rival. Three points would raise the prospects of a fourth straight title and the undisputed crown of being the most successful team in English football.

That fuelled the atmosphere on a bright and sunny spring day in Manchester, and whether fans were dressed in the traditional red and white or protest green and gold, there was no doubt that everyone was united behind the team.

Sir Alex opted to stick with the formation and line-up that yielded success against Milan in Europe – a 4-5-1 formation with Rooney leading the line, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher anchoring the midfield, Park charged with hassling and harrying Steven Gerrard and co., and Antonio Valencia and Nani operating out wide.

Further back, it would be interesting to see how Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in particular coped with the threat of Fernando Torres, who grabbed two goals in each of Liverpool’s midweek matches against Portsmouth and Lille.

And the Liverpool striker was clearly in confident mood as he put the visitors in front in the fifth minute. The Spanish won possession in midfield and started a move that went through Gerrard out to Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman crossed and Torres was unmarked and allowed to head the ball beyond van der Sar. A nightmare start. In truth, United had yet to settle and Liverpool had enjoyed the early pressure.

Rooney, who started the game without having scored in 10 games against Liverpool, inevitably looked to lead the charge. He bustled his way past Javier Mascherano before striking just wide of Pepe Reina’s right post.

The United no.10 didn’t have to wait long to end his run without a goal. After 11 minutes Valencia surged into the box and was fouled by Mascherano, who was booked. Liverpool complained that the offence had taken place outside, but referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot. The delaying tactics that followed, including Torres trying to scuff the penalty spot, were pathetic as much as unsportsmanlike.

By the time Rooney actually took his penalty, Reina guessed the right way and saved brilliantly, but Wayne followed up the rebound and gleefully celebrated with a fist-pumping jump in front of the away fans. Tension was high inside Old Trafford and a feisty few minutes followed, including a touchline tussle between Sir Alex and Rafael Benitez.

The mood calmed somewhat and United came into the contest more. The Reds’ coaching staff were keen to get the ball out to Valencia as much as possible, and on 23 minutes the Ecuadorian showed why, beating Emiliano Insua at the byline and crossing for Park to head narrowly wide.

As the half wore on, United began to get some joy down the left, Nani’s excellent cross was narrowly missed by Rooney on 27 minutes, then seconds later the Portuguese forced a finger-tip save from Reina.

The first half ended far more tamely than it had begun, but in injury time United had a chance to add a second when Jamie Carragher was rightly booked for a lunge on Fletcher. However, Rooney’s free-kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Reina.

The second half started with plenty of posturing but little end product. Park had the only real chance in the opening ten minutes of the second period when he followed a jinking run with a tame left-foot shot. The game was crying out for an experienced head - someone like Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs (both beckoned by the Stretford End), the Welshman returning after his arm break against Aston Villa last month.

But Park showed that Giggs and Scholes, the men he was selected ahead of in United’s midfield, were not required. The Korean had put two earlier headers wide, but when Rooney worked the ball out to Fletcher on the hour mark and the Scot sent in a brilliant, teasing cross, Park flung himself fearlessly toward the ball and headed United in front.

Old Trafford bloomed in spring, with a sea of green and gold scarves twirling above heads, and a roaring rendition of ‘we shall not be moved…’ reverberating around the stadium. Liverpool’s supporters stood deathly silent

Benitez rolled the dice on 73 minutes, replacing Kuyt with Alberto Aquilani, then shortly after took off Maxi Rodriguez for Ryan Babel. United looked in control with Rio Ferdinand dominating in defence, Fletcher hungry in midfield and Rooney threatening up front.

Giggs did finally make an appearance, on for the injured Nani, with ten minutes remaining. His task was to help United see out the win. He was joined by Scholes with four minutes remaining and Park deservedly earned a standing ovation for his considerable efforts.

There was time for a scare when Torres fluffed his lines 12 yards out and substitute Yossi Benayoun headed the loose ball straight into Edwin van der Sar’s hands. Five minutes of added time did little to help frayed nerves in the home end, but such an important victory was too close not to see out. And United did so, a deafening roar greeting the final whistle.

Manchester United Vs. Liverpool Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 1] Liverpool
5' [0 - 1] F. Torres
12' [1 - 1] W. Rooney
60' [2 - 1] J. Park

0-1 Fernando Torres 5'

1-1 Wayne Rooney 12'

2-1 Park J-S 59'