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11 February 2012
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 74844
That's it from me, thanks to all those who dropped by or stuck with this LIVE! commentary of Manchester United v Liverpool. Stick around on Goal.com for coverage of all of this weekend's matches and reaction to this top tie.
As for Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson's side hop over Manchester City and to the top of the Premier League. Manchester City will overtake their local rivals though should they win or draw at Aston Villa tomorrow.
Where does this loss leave Liverpool? Well the Reds are four points off Chelsea in fourth, but should the Blues beat Everton this weekend then Kenny Dalglish's men will be seven points adrift of Champions League qualification with 13 games remaining.
Evra gets a telling off from the officials for celebrating towards the home fans but in front of Luis Suarez. Naughty, naughty. The Frenchman is prevented from going down the tunnel straight away for understandable reasons.
90' + 4'
Game over, and it finshes Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool!
90' + 2'
Suarez with a headed chance which drops over the bar, but it won't matter as the striker was deemed offside.
90' + 1'
Welbeck concedes a free-kick on the left which Bellamy takes. David de Gea pulls off a superb save from Johnson's left-footed shot on the edge of the box, keeping the visitors from scoring a second goal late on. A vital save, just like the one he pulled off last weekend in injury time.
Three minutes of stoppage time at Old Trafford. Liverpool will be pressing for the equaliser while you can expect Manchester United to be defending as though their lives depend on it.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is barking instructions at his ide from the touchline. His eleven men on the pitch are trying to respond but to no avail. United have the ball in their own half currently and are successfully keeping the Merseysders away from their goal.
If the score stays this way then United will overtake Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Liverpool, despite Suarez's goal moments ago, would leave the stadium with nothing, and stay in seventh.
What an ending we could be set up for. Either side could yet leave Old Trafford with three points at this rate, as the ball springs from on end of the pitch to the other. Suarez has a half-volleyed attmept blocked in front of goal. The referee gives a goal-kick as the ball looked to have hit Carroll as opposed to a United defender, and the former Ajax forward isn't best pleased.
Welbeck, at the other end of the pitch, laces a ball over the bar from the left side in front of Liverpool's goal.
Yellow Card Michael Carrick
Goal Luis Suárez
Liverpool get a goal back! Luis Suarez, who won the free-kick wen Michael Carrick tackled the striker from behind 40-yards out, smashes in the ball from inside the six-yard box. The ball had hit Rio Ferdinand on the knee and the United defender was helpess to stop the Uruguayan getting a goal back for the visitors. Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool.
Don't go thinking I forgot about Goal.com's reporter at the match, Greg Stobart: "We’re having a bit of a lull here, on and of the pitch, but I don’t think the drama is over this afternoon. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Kenny Dalglish so passive on the touchline - he’s looking rather fed up as United look to see the game out as we head into the final 10 minutes. The visitors have never got going in the second-half and United are looking very comfortable at the moment as they dominate possession."
Some delightfully descriptive swearing for anyone that can lip read from Liverpool forward Andy Carroll. The striker is visibly frustrated at the lack of opportunities he's being given as the visitors' midfield struggle to get past United's numerous bodies in front of goal.
Charlie Adam comes on for Dirk Kuyt moments after Daniel Agger takes a wild and wishful shot at United's goal, which flies wide of the left upright.
The last 10 minutes have lacked any real chances but finally United break the monotony. Rooney, Scholes and Valencia work well on the right edge of the box, before the ball switches to Welbeck on the left side of goal, but his shot is deflected and drops harmlessly in front Reina.
Jubiliant, joyous and japing sums up the atmosphere of the United fans now that their team are two goals ahead. Distraught, despairing and desperate would be the only way to describe the Liverpool players as they continue to see their toothless attacks falter and fail.
Liverpool have control of the ball for over two minutes but they fail to do anything with the possession and United work the ball away from goal when Paul Scholes heads Glen Johnson's corss into the ball away from goal.
Every touch of Suarez's is met with boos while evry mistake of the striker's is received with a chorus of cheers. The home fans are taunting the Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, with a mocking parody of the Anfield chant he regularly hears. The England midfielder was deemed to have fouled Rooney on United's left flank.
Suarez is in a foul mood and attempts to boot the ball at Patrice Evra on the left side near the Liverpool goal. United are refusing to sit back and defend their lead and are continuing to attack their Premier League opponents.
At the other end, Valencia and Rafael work together nicely, with the Brazilian right-back eventually crossing for the home side, tbut the ball is straight into the clutches of Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Rafael beats Carroll to a header at the back post when Steven Gerrard fires his trademark long pass to the England striker. Considering his height and prowess in the air, the ex-Newcastle United man should have put up more of a fight.
Downing off for Craig Bellamy and Spearing off for Andy Carroll are the two substitutes that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish makes with a third of the game remaining.
Oh wait...no, it's still 2-0, but it really ought to be 3-0 to United. Rooney is surrounded by players but through on goal in the box, but his shot from 10-yards out dribbles wide of the right post. Replays hint it could have been a pass to the running Valencia but who knows. Either way it was inaccurate.
Rooney has the ball in the back of the net again but it won't count as referee Phil Dowd had already blown to whistle for a foul by United team-mate Jonny Evans on Jay Spearing. It's still 2-0 to the hosts.
Rooney tries to square softly to Welbeck on his right-hand side but the pass is intercepted. Rooney had three defenders around him during that passage of play, all terrified of getting too close to the goalscorer.
Stewart Downing takes a free-kick from 40-yards out on the right flank but United clear quickly. Liverpool aren't giving up on the game yet.
Greg Stobart gives us some post-Rooney-brace reaction from Old Trafford: "From the hostility and hatred as the players left the pitch at half-time, the atmosphere around the stadium now is one of unconfined joy. The Stretford End is rocking to ‘we shall not be moved’ with the away end silenced by that quickfire Wayne Rooney double. Luis Suarez as spent the last five minutes shaking his head - only he knows about what - and you do wonder just how far his emotions might boil over in the remainder of the game."
Some of you will have noted me say I never win bets at half-time. However, the one bet I have won came last season in this fixture when I correctly predicted the 3-2 final score. As a result, I can vividly remember Steven Gerrard dragging Liverpool back from two goals down to bring them back to 2-2. can Gerrard do it again for the visitors?
Assist Antonio Valencia
Goal Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney scores his second in five minutes and puts Manchester United 2-0 up!! Liverpool's defence parts when Danny Welbeck slips Rooney into the box to his left, and the England striker makes no mistake in hammering home!! What a challenge Liverpool have on their hands now.
Immediate impact from the home side at Old Trafford and I'm just delighted that football is once again the centre of attention after what went on at half-time.
Assist Ryan Giggs
Goal Wayne Rooney
Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool! Ryan Giggs whips the corner into the box from the right, the ball deflects off Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson's head, before Wayne Rooney hammers first time into the back of the net for the home side!
Manchester United get the game underway and straight away are attacking in the final third. Antonio Valencia wins a corner off Jose Enrique on the right flank.
The teams are back out at Old Trafford. Here we go...
There was reportedly a tunnel bust-up of sorts. United's Evra apparently tried talking to Suarez but Liverpool team-mate Skrtel got involved and the incident escalated accordingly. If I was a betting man (I'm not, ever since I realised I'm completely rubbish at predicting), I would put it on a red card coming out in the latter 45 minutes.
Plenty of slow motion replays of 'The Handshake', as the media will no doubt call it for next week. It's petty of Suarez not to shake his hand as he's come away from it looking like arrogant. But ideally, the teams should have agreed to not do the handshake before the match, like Chelsea did in their trip to QPR a couple of weeks ago.
So, plenty to talk about in this 15 minute break before the second half commences. Is the scoreline what you'd thought it would be? Will United aim for the jugular or can Liverpool take three points from Old Trafford? And can tempers be controlled on the pitch, especially Luis Suarez's? Let me know in the comments section below.
Goal.com's reporter at Old Trafford, Greg Stobart, graciously (and unknowingly) saves me the task of summing up that 45 minutes of football: "A lively if unspectacular half comes to an end as it started - with Luis Suarez at the centre of attention. The Uruguayan infuriated the United supporters and bench today by refusing to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before kick-off, and in the final seconds of the half he continued to cause trouble by smashing the ball into the crowd. His behaviour this afternoon really has been contemptible. On the pitch, United have edged the game after a bright start from the visitors. Paul Scholes, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck have been particularly impressive. Scholes missed the best chance of the game when he headed straight at Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina but looks like the man to unlock the visitors’ defence after the break."
Big moment at Old Trafford. Ferdinand tackles Suarez as the last man in United's defence and the Liverpool striker goes down to the turf. No foul is given by the referee, much to the fury of the Uruguay international. Replays indicate theEngland defender's tackle was an excellent one.
Yellow Card Stewart Downing
Stewart Downing fouls Rafael with a sliding tackle and swiftly gets the first yellow card of the match for it.
Antonio Valencia bums Jay Spearing in the face (as in, he jumps for a challenge and his backside hits the face of the opposition midfielder in the head), and concedes a foul for it.
Liverpool have two consecutive corners. The first is put out of danger by Rio Ferdinand, who has to crawl and chest to ball out uncomfortably. The sesond set-piece from the away side ends with Skrtel volleying the ball over the bar from just inside the right side of the box.
Steven Gerrard takes a shot, which deflects off a United defender and drops just over the bar for a corner to the visitors.
Rooney isn't a happy bunny whern he's brought down on the counter-attack and nothing is given by referee Phil Dowd. it looked like the former Everton forward threw himself down a bit if I'm honest. I guess we are in the midst of Oscar season though, and theatrics are the name of the game.
Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck do some neat passing, before Welbeck turns right, dodges a tackle from Martin Skrtel and shoots at Reina. The effort is bobbles ineffectually wide to the left of goal and it's Liverpool goal-kick.
Greg Stobart, Goal.com's reporter at Old Trafford today, gives his verdict on the first 35 minutes of the match: "The game has settled into a pattern now and, to be honest, it’s not particularly exciting. Both teams are lacking cutting edge in the final third - although Paul Scholes missed a superb chance to put United ahead after a flowing move. As the the United fans continue to taunt Suarez - chants I’m sure Kenny Dalglish will accept as ‘a bit of banter’ - the Liverpool manager is deep in conversation with his assistant Steve Clarke. Judging from their hand gestures, they seem to be talking about Stewart Downing, who has been virtually anonymous so far on Liverpool’s left side."
Giggs brings to ball from the centre circle out to the right wing, passing in front of Antonio Valencia. The United winger dummies then swings a cross in to the back post, where the rushing Evra powers his headed attempt over the bar.
Rooney has an opportunity inside the box but is thwarted by the Liverpool defence. United's three minute burst there was breathtaking and the visitors will be praying that they fall back a gear or two for the remainder of the game!
Paul Scholes (nearly) scores goals. The United midfielder gets his head on a cross from Ryan Giggs unmarked in front of goal, but it's nodded straight at Reina's hands. A superb move leading up to that header and the best chance of the match for the hosts.
Valencia picks the ball up on the right and cuts inside - a move he has done on several occasions already today. His pass inside seconds later to Rooney is cut out though and the hosts must start the attacking move anew.
Rooney lashes the ball at goal from 25-yards out which fires just wide to the left of goal. The striker has only scored twice against the Reds in his career, can he make the difference today?
Steven Gerrad, who hasn't been involved enough by his own high standards, pushes Rafael to the floor like a sumo wrestler would push a stick man. Suffice to say the Liverpool captain is penalised and United win a free-kick.
As the game continues to hang in the balance, let me know your thoughts on what you think the score at half-time will be.
Rafael's shot a few minutes ago provided a glimpse at the penetration that United can do, but since that left-footed shot they have struggled to get the ball back in the final third.
The hosts are trying their hardest to get a passing rhythm going at Old Trafford but Liverpool are doing well to stifle any early domination from the reigning Premier League champions.
Rafael gets a shot away inside the box which Reina has to get down low to his right and smother . The ball nearly hits Welbeck's outstretched leg on hits way towards goal, but luckily dor Liverpool it just misses the England striker.
United are camped in Liverpool's half at the moment. Welbeck slots Valencia in down the right but Jose Enrique blocks the cross to give away a corner to the home side.
More words of reporting wisdom from our man at Old Trafford, Greg Stobart: "Putting aside Luis Suarez’s disgraceful behaviour in refusing to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before kick-off, it’s been a good start to the game. Both teams are popping the ball around nicely and playing with energy, using the width of the pitch. United winger Antonio Valencia and Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson are both causing problems for defenders early on with their pace and skill."
The last minute of play has seen the ball stranded on Liverpool's right/United's left. With both teams taking it in turns to give away possession. Dirk Kuyt ends the passage of play with a wayward cross which is hit out for a goal-kick before it reaches De Gea's near post.
Referee Phil Dowd is officiating today's clash, and what a task he has. One or two harder-than-needed challenges are flying in. This time United centre-back Jonny Evans raises a high boot at Luis Suarez's head and is swiftly given a talking to by the referee.
Plenty of fight in both sides in the opening 10 minutes, with neither team sitting back and being submissive.
Suarez pings to ball out wide to Glen Johnson on the right, who uses his pace to cut inside on the edge of the United area, before marginally dragging his left-footed effort wide of Dea Gea's right upright. Too close for comfort for Sir Alex Ferguson's side surely.
Manchester United right-back Rafael goes down under an Enrique challenge on the left of Liverpool's 18-yard box but this time no foul is called, much to the annoyance of the home support.
United striker Rooney gets his head of the deflected corner but he cannot get sufficient power on the header and it's cleared by the Liverpool defender on Pepe Reina's right.
Ryan Giggs delivers the ball and Liverpool's Johnson has to nod the ball behind for a corner to prevent Wayne Rooney from putting the hosts ahead.
Valencia powers past Liverpool left-back Enrique and round the Spaniard, but the former Newcastle United man drags the winger back, conceding a free-kick on the edge of the area for United.
Danny Welbeck weaves from the halway line into the Liverpool half brilliantly, sliding the ball to Antonio Valencia on the right. The Ecuador international cuts inside but his fight-footed shot after a moment to control the ball is short and Pepe Reina collects.
Glen Johnson, switching back to his familiar right-back position after 90 minutes at left-back against Tottenham on Monday, has a probing low shot from the right flank from the throw-in after Ferdinand gets back to his feet. David de Gea gets down and saves at his feet with ease.
Rio Ferdinand collides with team-mate Evra almost immediately and is down on the floor receiving treatment. He did a little backflip on the edge of his own area and landed awkwardly on his neck.
Liverpool, in white tops and black shorts, kick-off against Manchester United who are in red tops and white shorts.
The players are out on the pitch. Luis Suarez prods the flames unnecessarily at Old Trafford further by refusing to shake Patrice Evra's hand. The Frenchman tried to shake the Uruguayan's but the Liverpool striker was having none of it. Tut tut tut. Anyway, let's get on with the football.
Appropriately, and coincidentally, after my little trophy stat, Goal.com reporter Greg Stobart gives us an Old Trafford update: "The Liverpool supporters housed to my right are holding up pieces of card with the number ‘five’ on them - just in case United forgot how many European titles their greatest rivals have won."
1) Who do you think has won the most trophies in their history - Liverpool or Manchester United? Last season the Reds were beating Sir Alex’s side 59-58, but one Premier League title and a Community Shield victory later and United are ahead of the Merseyside club with 60 pieces of silverware over their history.
2) Not in nearly 50 years has a player been transferred from Liverpool to United, or vice versa: Phil Chisnall left Old Trafford for the Merseyside club in 1964. One or two players - Michael Owen most recently - can claim to have played for both teams but and no one has swapped directly since Chisnall 48 years ago. And we all know how much Reds fans worship Owen now...
3) Thinking of putting a cheeky bet on for a draw? Well hold your horses! Only two of the last 23 league battles between these two teams have ended in a stalemate.
4) United have kept 12 clean sheets in their 24 Premier League matches this season. Liverpool deserve their fair share of defensive plaudits too however - the Reds have the second best defensive record in the top flight.
5) The club might be riding high on a wave of Wembley euphoria after overcoming Manchester City to reach the League Cup final, but in the league Liverpool have been lacking. The Reds have just the solitary win in their last five EPL matches - a 3-0 triumph at Wolves.
If statistics grew on trees, this LIVE! commentary would be one of those bad ass Redwood ones that grow bigger than blue whales. With the match only 10 minutes from kick-off, I’m giving you with a countdown of five of my favourite match facts for today’s showdown.
Greg Stobart is at Manchester United's ground today for Goal.com: "Welcome to Old Trafford, where Luis Suarez has just received a taster of what’s to come as he left the pitch following Liverpool’s warm-up. ‘You racist b******’ chanted the United fans in the Stretford End towards the Uruguayan, who will be public enemy No. 1 here today. The frosty and overcast in Manchester as the stands fill up with around 10 minutes until kick-off. There’s plenty of excitement here in the press box about a fixture described by Sir Alex Ferguson as United’s ‘main derby’ - especially with the added incentive for the hosts of going to the top of the Premier League ahead of City’s game tomorrow."
But fear not Luis Suarez lovers and Andy Carroll adorers: United may be a juggernaut on home turf but they are not without their weaknesses. City fans are probably screaming for me to mention the 6-1 flattening Roberto Mancini’s men gave them earlier this season. Blackburn Rovers fans - who let’s be honest deserve a bit of joy with the campaign they’re having - will be equally as adamant I bring up their shock 3-2 win at Old Trafford in January. And let us not forget that the Reds defeated United with a late goal from Dirk Kuyt only two weeks ago in the FA Cup fourth-round. Will that win prove to be a psychological advantage?
With the exception of the aforementioned 4-1 victory, Liverpool have not won away to Manchester United in the last 10 years. The Red Devils are formidable at home in most circumstances, and have won 29 out of their last 33 league matches at Old Trafford.
The Theatre of Dreams is how many devout United fans describe Old Trafford. But the tables can turn in favour of Liverpool, albeit rarely, as they did on March 14 in 2009. Reds fans will cherish the 4-1 demolition that occurred that day; although the memory will be bittersweet as Ferguson’s men still claimed the Premier League title, with the Merseyside club lingering behind in second.
Let’s not beat around the bush - this is a rivalry of epic proportions. Some Reds fans will vouch for the Everton derby as the most heated, while some United supporters will point at their rivals Manchester City as their biggest adversaries nowadays. However, in terms of relevance to silverware and history, the clashes between United and Liverpool are among the highlights in most campaigns. Will today's game give us moments that will be remembered at the end season?
United's David de Gea has been given a bundle of abuse for his performances since his arrival from Atletico Madrid, and a some of it has been deserved. Ferguson, however, has stuck up for the Spanish goalkeeper after his display against Chelsea last weekend in his comments in today's matchday programme: "A nightmare game followed by a brilliant recovery could well prove to be a turning point for De Gea in his career. David had a bad day when we were knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool a fortnight ago. I was possibly the person least concerned about giving him a recall, because I know his potential. He is capable of being United’s No. 1 goalkeeper for the next 10 years, and in the game at Chelsea he showed exactly why I have so much faith in him wit a display that was first-class - no, much better than that, he was superb. His performance reinforced my faith in him."
United fans, a tasty treat for you. Here's a snippet from Sir Alex Ferguson in today's matchday programme, urging both clubs to "move on" from the Evra-Suarez debate: “As you well know, I regard our fixtures with Liverpool as the real derby matches of the season. As always, we can expect a feisty match this afternoon, and this time it will have the hangover of the issue between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra. My own feeling is that it is time to move on. Right from the start we have tried to avoid aggravating the situation. As far as we are concerned, it’s over. My biggest regret is the way that Patrice has been castigated in some quarters for standing up to racism. He can’t have enjoyed the booing he endured at Anfield the other week, but he kept his dignity and his concentration on football.”
So, Suarez starts - what do you lovely lot have to say about that? Will the tempestuous atmosphere at Old Trafford suffocate the skill that the Uruguayan clearly has? Or will it urge him on and make him even more of a threat than he would normally? Let me know in the comments section below.
Four changes from the Spurs match five days ago by Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish. Jose Enrique returns to left-back after missing Monday’s match at the expense of Martin Kelly. Elsewhere, Charlie Adam and Craig Bellamy drop to the bench for Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing. Up front Luis Suarez makes his first start since the end of his eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra, who is in the opposition’s line-up. Expect fireworks from fans and players alike.
Sir Alex Ferguson keeps faith in Danny Welbeck, who is given the nod ahead of Chicharito and Berbatov. The only change that the 70-year-old makes is Paul Scholes in for Ashley Young, with Ryan Giggs moving from the centre of midfield to the left. The Welshman will be making his 899th appearance against Liverpool, a mind-boggling figure. Tom Cleverley has returned from injury and features on the bench at Old Trafford.
Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique; Spearing, Henderson; Downing, Gerrard, Kuyt; Suarez. Subs: Doni, Carragher, Bellamy, Adam, Shelvey, Kelly, Carroll.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs; Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Amos, Fabio, Park, Pogba, Cleverley, Hernandez, Berbatov.
The starting line-ups are in...
And will Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish make any changes to his starting eleven? The Reds fought admirably on Monday at home to Tottenham but were unable to break through the visitors defence. Steven Gerrard’s name may as well be tattooed into the team sheet by the coach such is his importance in this fixture. The club captain has scored four times in his last five appearances for against United. Luis Suarez is guaranteed a reception to remember by the Old Trafford faithful should he feature but the striker is an impact player Dalglish will not want to leave out. The former Ajax forward has yet to start since completing his eight match ban for racially abusing United Patrice Evra, and there’s no bigger game the Uruguayan could come back to the fray in!
The starting line-ups are yet to be announced but as soon as they are you can guarantee I will be filtering them in your direction. Do we have any predictions as to who Sir Alex Ferguson will field up front today? The Scot chose Danny Welbeck to partner Wayne Rooney in their breathtaking Chelsea clash last weekend, but Javier Hernandez could be favoured after scoring the third and decisive goal that secured the Red Devils a draw at Stamford Bridge. I can’t be the only one that remembers Dimitar Berbatov’s impressive hat-trick against United’s biggest Merseyside rivals in this fixture last season either.
Welcome one and all to the LIVE! commentary of Manchester United - Liverpool. I’m Miles Chambers and I’ll be guiding you through this Mount Everest of derby matches like the footballing Sherpa that I am.
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