Park Seals Win For United
Liverpool made a very lively start to the game, which was what was required if we wanted to get anything out of the fixture. Benitez started a familiar XI with the same back four from Lille, Pepe in goal, Masch and Lucas in midfield, Maxi and Kuyt on the wings and Gerrard sitting off Torres.
No question about it, this was more of a precautionary line up rather than one to take the attack to United but Rafa's original tactics worked as the goal scored in free play came within 5minutes from kick off.
It was Fernando Torres himself who created the build up towards his headed goal. After a great little back heel to Gerrard in the centre of the pitch, Steven made the run and spotted Kuyt in space on the wing, Torres was now making his own way into the box, when Kuyt collected the ball he supplied a top cross for our number 9 who with a fantastic header made it 1-0 to Liverpool.
In case you weren't aware i opted to watch this one on a big screen in a pub, unsurprisingly there were hardly any Liverpool fans but tons and tons of United fans, who i feel i could correctly question their loyalties to the team, you could tell that some were full on fans but you can spot the glory hunters a mile off.
Point being, celebrating the Torres goal was the highlight of the whole match, it's always great to jump up in front of the Mancs and scream.
Moving on to the equalizer. Which was the most controversial situation within the game. Javier Mascherano, sometimes renown for his hot-headedness is chasing down Valencia, he takes hold of the wingers arm. Vitally though, his grasp was no longer intact when Valencia rolled over into the box and protested.
Now look at it whatever way you wish, maybe we were just unlucky, maybe Masch should have just not made contact in the first place but the incident was quite clearly outside the box, and where i come from, that ain't no penalty.
What made it worse was that Howard Webb had to look over to his linesman before he made the decision, a linesman who did not swing either way and basically did not know. So how, if Webb wasn't certain to start with and the linesman could not give a decision do you award a penalty? Are referee's not supposed to be almost certain if they are to award a penalty? Baffling.
Fact is, although we cannot complain too much about the decision, we know that it was the penalty that changed the state of the game. Up until now Liverpool looked as though they could handle the pressure from United, and if it weren't for them equalising so quickly, you would have felt we may have been able to hold on to half time.
What was most gutting too was that the fantastic efforts from Pepe Reina were wasted after the Spaniard actually made the save from Rooney's initial spot kick he then saw the ball lay back out to the striker who then followed up. Justice would have been done if only that ball stayed away from the ex Evertonian.
From here on in Liverpool looked a weakened version of their starting self. No real chances to note in the remainder of the first half and the second installment was much of the same.
United scored their second goal close to the hour mark courtesy of Ji-Sung Park. Rather ironically and annoyingly for me it was a header from Park that saw United to victory. I had been taking the mick out of his two or three previous efforts earlier in the game and quite literally had to shut my mouth when they scored.
Liverpool were never set to deal with this chance as the cross from Flethcer was perfect, whoever got on the end of that it was going into the back of the net.
A couple of miss queued chances from Fernando made the pain worse as we searched for an equalizer.
Perhaps most humorously though was the reaction of the United fans in the pub when the board went up "5 minutes added time" ...
"5 f***in minutes?!" Was the general consensus. To which i shouted "F*** off if we were still drawing you'd have said s*** all!"
So that was that, a grin on farty Ferguson's wrinkled tomato face and a grim look on Benitez who (what a surprise) will have woken up this morning to countless calls for his head again, slating of his decisions, despite the fact he went all out with the introduction of Aquilani, Babel and Yossi Benayoun in the dying moments and despite the fact that he has already beaten the Mancs three time in a row, which is definitely nothing to frown at.
Who in their right mind actually thought we could get anything from Old Trafford this time around anyway? In all fairness, despite a rather drab performance we did well to score and lose by just the one goal.
Unfortunately though, we could have done with 3 vital points. After Man City narrowly beat Fulham yesterday we now sit in 6th place, the only real plus side is that our run in of games should be kind to use, assuming that we can go out there and get the results.
Roll on Sunderland and the revenge for the beach ball incident.