Berbatov Hat-Trick Breaks Reds Hearts
Gerrard runs to the camera after netting his free kick...
It was a cracker of a game and once again Liverpool proved that they can more than handle the pressure when on display at Old Trafford. Despite an inspired performance from the lads though, the end result was an unfortunate one for Liverpool who fought hard.
Roy started Reina in goal with Konchesky, Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson across the back. Midfield was made up of Meireles, Poulsen, Cole and Maxi and it was Torres up front with Gerrard sitting behind him.
A slow start for Liverpool meant that United pressure was invited. With several cracks at goal within the first minute and hardly any possession from Liverpool, we looked rather unsteady.
From early on it appeared the Reds may struggle and possibly unfairly so my attention drew to Christian Poulsen. I realise both Konchesky and Meireles should have been watched closely too but there's just something about Poulsen that made me feel he wasn't right from the start for this fixture.
Later on in the game he did produce some good crosses and balls to Torres but if you created a montage of his 90minutes i think it's fair to say there would be a very high percentage of balls back to Reina or just general backwards movement of the ball. I realise his role is a more defensive one but i can't remember Mascherano being that cautious, i'm not making him a scapegoat because in all fairness his game as a whole was okay but his performance just made it more prominent to me that Lucas would have been the better option in this tough game against United.
For the remainder of the first half Liverpool failed to even have a proper chance but in true Liverpool style they were strong in defence as they always seem to be for a good portion of the time in these big games. Of course we also know that this is never the case for the full 90minutes with Liverpool and just before the stroke of half time unfortunately all of the Reds hard work was undone.
A corner sent into the box was met with Berbatov who easily headed home to make it United 1-0. It was so frustrating because i don't know how or where along the line the mistake was made but when the ball was sent in it was Torres marking Berbatov, clearly a big threat, surely he should have been marked by one of either Carragher or Skrtel. From the replays it seemed as though it was Johnson out of position, but the bizarre thing is, perhaps Torres was told to mark him? If this is so then it's simply baffling. Unfortunately for Torres he made matters worse by fighting behind and not in front of his man but then Torres isn't a defender is he? Berbatov didn't even have to jump!... Terrible.
No changes for the second half and Liverpool needed to change tactics. Fresh from i'm sure a thriving team talk, there did seem to be some more life in the side now fighting to come back from 1-0 at Old Trafford.
Half chances from Joe Cole and Fernando Torres were perhaps the only highlights before United punished again. This time there were no complaints though, there was no stopping this effort.
Annoyingly a great ball from the diving, rolling pansy that is Luis Nani looked like it was about to be met by Wayne Rooney, Berbatov had other ideas though and after an acrobatic bicycle kick the Liverpool lads could do nothing but watch the ball fly past Reina.
I think we all have to hold our hands up and appreciate the stature of that goal, even more annoyingly this is the soddin thing with Berbatov! He can be so lazy and do nothing for games on end then he can go and score a goal like that!
So another shock to the system for Liverpool didn't help with the confidence levels after coming out second half thinking it wasn't over. Of course it wasn't necessarily over yet either but 2-0 down at Old Trafford... Well any team knows that's a tough task to turn around to your advantage.
Tensions were high and as Liverpool began to go on the attack some sloppy tackles from the United boys were beginning to show. When Joe Cole sent a lovely ball through to a forward pushing El Nino, he was far too quick for Jonathan Evans who brought down the Spaniard in the box.
All of a sudden there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I always maintain before a match like this as long as i have something to cheer about then that is a positive i can fall back on, no matter what the result. Even if the result isn't favoured nothing beats celebrating in front of some of your bitter rivals fans in the pub.
Steven Gerrard rarely misses from the spot but i tell you something, doubt comes flooding back when you watch him step up against United.
The number 8 clearly didn't have even an ounce of doubt though as he sent the ball past Van Der Sar to get Liverpool off the mark.
So now, the game was on, the Reds can be a major threat on the come back as we have all seen so many times, but whether we could do it this time out, well that was a different matter.
Just under ten minutes later though and Fernando Torres is yet again causing trouble for the United defence. After John O'Shea pulled him to the floor on a run to the box it was definitely a free kick, i was expecting a red too because he was clearly last man although after reading some articles, some people appear to have had differing opinions.
Whether United had of gone down to ten men or not i don't think it would have made too much of a difference but it might of bloody helped!
Again, Steven Gerrard takes responsibility and with kopites all over the land pushing the weight down on his shoulders he must of felt as light as air when he sent his free kick through the wall and into the net. Superb.
I went mad when this one went in, jumped up off one of those high bar stools and knocked me Smirnoff Ice over! Twas hilarious! I was in a pub in town with me fella and a couple of mates, there were a few United fans in but for once there were more Liverpool fans, it was a top atmosphere although it did get a bit heated at one stage when the two sets of blokes squared up to each other... but they all shook hands at the end and did the whole "good game" thing haha.
Gerrard's celebration said it all as he ran emphatically to the camera and as he did in the famous 4-1 victory gave it a kiss in the hope that Liverpool were about to turn the tides in what would have been one of the most memorable North West derbies.
For a while it seemed like we may be able to nick it, as the time ticked by though it was beginning to be a case of please just hold on to the draw. A point from the Mancs in their own back yard after coming back from two nil down would have been nothing to frown at. And after Liverpool's performance second half, i think it was fair to say we deserved something.
Berbatov with another header made it 3-2 to United and also has the title of scoring the first hat trick in this fixture since 1946. Just to add to that "gutted" feeling yer know...
Horrible to watch but it was almost a sense of, i knew that was coming. Always the same with United. Just seriously frustrating to throw away what would have been a very good point.
It's been a tough start for Liverpool but hopefully things will begin to pick up now, keep doing our stuff in the Europa League and start to pick up some better results in the league with some lesser teams coming up and hopefully we can have a bit more to smile about.
We'll do those Mancs at Anfield anyway... I feel it in my bones.