Evra Mistake Allows Kuyt To Knock United Out Of The FA Cup
|Kuyt gets the winner...|
Kenny Dalglish made some changes to the side that started against Manchester City, namely the introduction of Jamie Carragher and Martin Kelly. The Reds played four at the back with Carragher sitting behind the midfield. Andy Carroll was up front.
For United, they were without the likes of Rooney and Nani but as we all know, this never usually matters, United always seem to find a way through, minus their stars or not.
Liverpool began the game well and were creating half chances despite appearing to allow United to play their own game and keep the ball. United were attempting to create attacks through Giggs and Valencia but their final balls weren't quite cutting it.
A Liverpool corner early on raised questions over De Gea's confidence. Andy Carroll was doing nothing wrong by standing close to the keeper in the box but De Gea and the United defenders just couldn't drop it. Liverpool didn't get a shot on from the corner but it was clear that De Gea felt hassled. The Reds had spotted a hole in United's defence and they took their chance to expose it.
Shortly after their first corner, Liverpool gained themselves another. Steven Gerrard stepped up to cross the ball into a crowded penalty area and as De Gea began moaning once again, he was far too concerned with Andy Carroll in front of him than the ready to pounce Daniel Agger.
As the ball came in De Gea actually pushed Carroll out of the way. Agger has already made contact and before De Gea even gets chance to react the ball has scraped his questionable hair do and flown into the back of the net.
United had conceded a terrible goal, something you don't see happen very often for Fergie's side and with Liverpool in the lead at Anfield it was looking good at this stage.
Unfortunately for Liverpool instead of capitalising on their lead, they once again sat back and allowed United to keep possession. To be fair to the Reds, although they weren't attacking as much, they were still dealing with United's presence pretty well but it was clear we couldn't keep playing this sort of game for long without them taking advantage.
United found their equaliser just before half time. A mistake from Enrique was horrible to watch because in my opinion he's been fantastic so far this season but the defender should have put the ball out of play instead of attempting something clever and unfortunately Rafael Da Silva managed to put in a good cross, Park took his shot first time and put the ball into the right of goal.
It was a good goal to be fair, it's just a shame the way it was conceded.
Everybody who watches Liverpool in the League at the moment will know that scoring lots of goals isn't really out forte so when United equalised it began to raise questions about where we were going to find a winner and if we ever would.
Andy Carroll for me was having a great game, he was winning balls time after time but with nobody in support to collect the second ball, possession was constantly being lost.
By the hour mark, Dalglish thought it was time to change things. A double substitution saw Jamie Carragher and Maxi Rodriguez leave the field and Charlie Adam with Dirk Kuyt take their place.
Dirk Kuyt immediately changed the game i thought and so too did Charlie Adam. Both players ensured we kept more of the ball and Dirk Kuyt was now able to support Andy Carroll, when Carroll brought the ball down or flicked it on, Kuyt was there to collect.
United still however had the majority of possession but unlike the United side we usually see, they weren't using it well. Reina was barely troubled in the second half so all Liverpool had to do was keep going and just hope that their chance came.
Just after the 70 minute mark Dalglish made a very brave decision. In my opinion it takes guts for a manager to take off Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's talisman and a player who can always be a goal threat, in a game where we are level with United. Dalglish though wasn't afraid, he knew exactly what he was doing and on came Craig Bellamy.
At 87 minutes, Liverpool's chance came.
A superb flick on by Andy Carroll set up Dirk Kuyt perfectly. Left with bags of space thanks to Evra's poor awareness, the Dutchman took his shot on the bounce and his strike flew under De Gea and into the Kop End goal.
Anfield went mental, Kuyt ran to the Kop End and everyone ran at him. Dalglish was shouting with arms up in the air on the touchline, Reina had ran to the nearest Liverpool fans, fists pumping in the air and Luis Suarez showed raw delight in the stands, fists clenched and absolutely joyous at the fact his team had done it.
Beating Manchester United is always something Liverpool relish but when you knock them out of the FA Cup in the process, it really is sweet.
Liverpool may not have been the best side in some people's opinions but possession doesn't win you games, goals do.
Add to this the composure and quick thinking from Martin Skrtel to put the ball out of danger when Reina made a misjudgement running out of his box and you have a great team effort and a well deserved win.
Kenny Dalglish's tactics over the two Carling Cup legs and in this FA Cup game were nothing short of brilliant. As i said on Twitter and earlier in this post, it takes a brave man to take off Steven Gerrard and to park the bus at the Etihad, but he did it and it worked.
For those fans calling for the King's head after the dismal display at Bolton... You need to sit down and have a long hard think about what you're wishing for.
Yes our League run could be better but it's hardly abysmal like under Roy Hodgson, we're unbeaten at home and still in the chase for 4th even though it is quite clearly going to be a mammoth task. We've booked our place at Wembley and we've just ensured a chance of getting there again now we've knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
You won't find another man with such passion and such fight to take Liverpool through this transitional period in my opinion.
Next up for Liverpool is a trip to Molineux. As you all know by now, i work at Molineux and so get a free ticket, excitement levels have hit the roof!