Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0 ... Crisis?

So with the whole of the footballing world who wasn't related to Liverpool FC & even some of our own kopites looking at this fixture and just praying that the defeat was not a humiliation it appeared that the result was written out in permanent ink before the game had even started.

Liverpool were going through a big dip in form, no players had particularly been up to scratch lately and the world had turned it's attention to Rafael Benitez. Somehow he was solely to blame, the talk of the boss having no job by Monday morning was transforming from a snowball into an avalanche. The pressure was on, on Rafa, on the players, on Liverpool FC.

Even the most optimistic fan like myself would have sat down at Anfield, in the pub, or in front of Richard Keys in their living room this afternoon thinking realistically if we don't go out and do this, our season could be over in October.

With nerves on end and excitement bubbling the news that Steven Gerrard would not make the bench only added to the worries we were all already facing, but one man, a certain Fernando Torres would start, the sudden drop in hope is again revitalised as you begin to think of last seasons double and how El Nino literally torments a United defence.

And so, at 14:00 hours possibly the most intense game in English football kicks off. After clearing the numerous beach balls thrown onto the pitch the game is underway. Manchester United begin the half kicking towards the Kop End which means the lads would have their favoured side second half.

End to end stuff for the best part of 20minutes was the feel of the game as Liverpool pushed and United pushed back. 6 free kicks were awarded within the first twenty minutes as the United defence were attempting to let the likes of Torres know they were around whilst Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher were warning Rooney that they were well and truly "around". A free kick was awarded after Fernando Torres was tripped by Evra and would be taken by Fabio Aurelio, after the commentator correctly pointed out that the area the free kick would be taken from was practically the same spot where Fabio Aurelio netted against Manchester United in the 4-1 victory last season, many a kopites heart was suddenly in their mouth.

Aurelio makes a fantastic effort, high over the wall and swinging in for the top right corner, Van Der Sar successfully enters the picture after following the effort all the way to the safety of his hands.

Shortly after Manchester United find themselves in an attacking position, due to being kept relatively quiet the Devils had spent most of their time in their own half. When Wayne Rooney finds himself on the end of a superb cross it was almost inevitable that this header was going to be the first punishment in a now string of United attacks, but no, Wayne directs the header straight towards Pepe Reina and he collects the ball with ease.

From now up until half time the play is very much in favour of a Liverpool goal, Van Der Sar was being tested time and time again whereas Reina was left relatively jobless. Liverpool pushed and pushed United, not allowing them to push forward themselves or complete passes, with interceptions, crosses and several shots on goal it was obvious this attacking play from Liverpool was needed again second half.

Half-Time and after seeing how Liverpool performed fans all over were now having that thought... "we can do this". You try to compose yourself and calm down because you just know what United are like, you also realise that anything can happen but how can a first half display like that not put "hope in your heart".

Second half begins, with no changes from both managers. Liverpool start exactly the same as they did first half with the object appearing to be, don't let United push us around. Time and time again United were forced to pass backwards to defence or replay the ball to Van Der Sar in an attempt to get themselves further up the field. The Liverpool midfield was super effective with Lucas and Mascherano having an absolute cracking game.

65minutes read the clock at Anfield and step up the Ace Of Spain. Fernando Torres after receiving a perfect pass from Yossi Benayoun finds himself on goal with only Rio Ferdinand as United's attempt at prevention. After Rio finds himself outpaced, out strengthed and simply outdone, Torres fights off the tugs from Ferdinand and smashes the ball into the roof of the net with an excellent finish. 1-0 and Rio Ferdinand was put to shame, the amount of criticism from United fans and the press these past weeks on Jamie Carragher surely shunned after a blatantly very poor performance from Rio, after being unable to keep up with the sheer speed of Liverpool's number 9 the England internationals solution is to attempt to pull him down, forgetting that this is not Drogba he is dealing with, Fernando will not go down in an attempt to gain a penalty, he finds it much more satisfactory to muscle you out of the way and finish on his own behalf. Perhaps the weak defensive stars of our league are in fact a lot closer to Old Trafford than the media, United fans and Mr. Alex Ferguson thought?

A now rampant Liverpool are not contempt with sitting back, they are out to chalk off this win good and proper, with the 12th man louder than ever and the players now subject to a massive confidence boost the team continues to fight Manchester United all the way. Free kicks galore and the game is now becoming more and more heated, with four bookings already up to the 75 minute mark it wasn't too long before somebody was going to make a very silly mistake.

Michael Owen is brought into the frame and after a mixed reaction from the crowd, clapping, booing and even the chanting of Judas were only short lived as the attention again turned back the the battle on the pitch. Nani makes an appearance after also coming on as a sub with Michael Owen.

80 minutes and the substitution board shows number 9, Fernando Torres is cheered off with a standing ovation and his replacement David N'Gog was soon to have much more of an impact than he or anyone would have thought. Amusingly the United fan on "Fanzone" this week appeared to know nothing about N'Gog and seeming very un-phased by the fact he had been brought into play. Oh how he changed his mind.




The clock is pushing closer and closer towards the 90 minute mark and as Michael Owen finds himself in possession of the ball Jamie Carragher makes a last ditch attempt resulting in a yellow card. This incident proved very controversial but i see nothing wrong because the fact of the matter is justice was done. That foul in no way deserved a red card, the yellow was given along with the free kick but of course Alex has to fall back on something to do with the referee's decision, this moment and the superb tackle by Jamie Carragher which he claimed to be a penalty decision even though nobody on the pitch in a United shirt even considered making a claim at the time were his digs this week. Mr Ferguson is obviously a very sore loser and the look on his face when he actually had to drag himself to admit that we were infact the better side was priceless.

89 minutes and what i predicted after only ten minutes into the game, happened. Nemanja Vidic after rugby tackling Dirk Kuyt was shown a red card and again traipsed off the pitch. Throughout the game Vidic was constantly troubled namely by Fernando Torres who as Alan Hansen clearly pointed out on MOTD2 he is terrified of. This defender has no idea what to do when faced with the pace, skill and intelligence of Torres.
And who sussed out this fear might you ask? Step back to the first meeting last season between Liverpool and Manchester United, Rafa Benitez was quoted in a pre-match interview saying that Vidic was weak on the turn and that he has been working with Torres on how to turn this weakness into an overpowering positive. Mr.Benitez is clearly a very clever man who now has the key to a box which contains 3 points against Manchester United. The man "knows" how to do it.

Into extra time and perhaps the only negativity from the whole match for Liverpool as Javier Mascherano is sent off after receiving a second yellow card. He was very unlucky after charging towards Van Der Sar in an attempt to block the ball he unfortunately missed, realising this he brought his legs down and in the process took out the United goalkeeper. With no malicious intent and clearly as he was trying to get the ball not the man it was a bad decision in my eyes from the referee. Nevertheless with only 2 minutes to go this moment was massively overshadowed by the prospect of beating Manchester United after a run of 4 defeats and without the Captain on the field.

95 minutes and up steps David N'Gog after being assisted by Lucas Leiva he calmly runs towards goal and slides the ball past Van Der Sar and thus burying Liverpool's three points. Pepe Reina somehow manages to run the whole length of the pitch to get to David first only to dive on him in sheer delight as the team celebrate in front of the Kop End, another classic moment that will surely go down in the video archive as one of the most memorable moments in front of The Kop.

Full time and an ecstatic Liverpool side are met with an even more ecstatic Anfield with another epic rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone and thousands of scarfs. flags and banners being waved to the despair of the 10 United players left on the pitch.

So the afternoon ends, your still in shock as you leave Anfield, buy your next round in the pub and get up from your chair at home to pencil in the result to your now more brighter looking fixture list. With Arsenal in the league cup next and then a visit to Fulham all we have to do is keep the mentality and get the results we need.


As i always say and always will; NEVER write us off.


Images courtesey of http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/

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