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Premier League

  • 15 October 2011
  • • 12:45
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: A. Marriner
  • • Attendance: 45065

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United: Late Chicharito header denies Steven Gerrard dream winning goal on return to starting line-up

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United: Late Chicharito header denies Steven Gerrard dream winning goal on return to starting line-up

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A slow burning derby which ended at a thrilling pace sees United stay top of Premier League as Dalglish's side fail to record fourth successive Anfield victory over Red Devils

Steven Gerrard marked his first start of the season for Liverpool with a controversial free-kick goal before a Chicharito header secured a 1-1 draw for Manchester United at Anfield.

In a game which offered little first-half action, United's late equaliser sparked a flurry of action as both sides looked to secure a winner, with Jordan Henderson going close twice late on for the home side.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish welcomed club captain Gerrard back into his starting XI for this first time this season, his inclusion meaning Andy Carroll dropped to the bench despite his goal in the Merseyside derby victory a fortnight ago.

Sir Alex Ferguson opted to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench following his sending off in Montenegro last week and the recent news of his resulting three-match international ban, as Danny Welbeck started as a lone striker with Manchester United compacting the midfield.

The 4-5-1 formation of both sides allowed space for the full-backs to overlap, with Patrice Evra running in-behind Martin Kelly before delivering a cross for Phil Jones, who started in an unfamiliar midfield role, but the former Blackburn man was unable to guide his header towards goal.

Liverpool’s attacking play was also limited and their first real breakthrough came from a corner which Charlie Adam took short to Gerrard, whose cross flashed across the face of goal with only Luis Suarez getting anywhere near it.

Adam seemed the most likely to open the scoring for the home side, and when his run from deep caught out Darren Fletcher, only a block from Jonny Evans prevented the Scotman's goalbound shot from testing David de Gea.

Suarez was again the quickest to react, picking up the loose ball in a one-on-one position with De Gea, the Uruguayan should have have the home side the lead but his lame effort was directly at the young Spaniard and he dealt with it easily.

The half ended on a rather sour note as an innocent coming together of Jones and Lucas left both players sprawled out on the sun-drenched Anfield pitch shaking off the blows to the head.

         Kop That | Gerrard drives home a free-kick to give Liverpool a second-half lead

Both sides appeared fired up after their half-time team talks, as the tempo and aggression increased, controversy was never far away, firstly when a goalbound Dirk Kuyt header hit the arm of Evans.

Much to the dismay of the Anfield crowd referee Andre Marriner waived away any penalty claims, with replays later showing the official would have been harsh to have punished the United centre-back.

With increased intensity the game came alive and Adam's driving run from central midfield was halted by Rio Ferdinand, whose clip to the left heel of the former Blackpool man was enough to him bring down and setup a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, much to the fury of the visitors

Up stepped Gerrard, whose curling low shot found an inexplicable gap in the wall left by Ryan Giggs, with the ball finding its way into the bottom right-hand corner beyond a helpless  De Gea.

Sir Alex Ferguson was spurred into action, introducing Rooney, Nani and Chicarito from the bench as his side pushed for an equaliser as they looked to avoid their fourth consecutive league defeat at Anfield.

Chicharito's impact was immediate, as his powerful close-range header flew past Pepe Reina to draw the sides level. A cross from the left was met well by Welbeck, who easily lost Jaime Carragher to flick the ball onto the far post, where the Mexican forward was first to react and grab the equaliser.

The momentum looked to have been with United, yet it was Liverpool who nearly bagged a late winner, with substitute Henderson twice going close in a tense closing 10 minutes for the Premier League champions.

The away side were twice forced to clear the ball from the six-yard box, whilst Henderson nearly scored a sensational winner, only for De Gea to be alert to the former Sunderland man's audacios lobbed effort.

The England under-21 captain again went close, this time rising well inbetween Ferdinand and Evans to meet Jose Enrique's cross, only to see his headed effort just fly over the top right-hand corner of the goal, as the game drew to a close.