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FA Cup

  • January 28, 2012
  • • 12:45
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: M. Halsey
  • • Attendance: 43952

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United: Dramatic late Dirk Kuyt winner sees Reds dump rivals out of FA Cup

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United: Dramatic late Dirk Kuyt winner sees Reds dump rivals out of FA Cup

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The tie seemed destined for a replay at Old Trafford after Park Ji-sung cancelled out Daniel Agger's opener, but the Dutchman secured his side's progression in the final minutes

Liverpool edged past Manchester United to secure a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to Dirk Kuyt's late winning goal.

Daniel Agger opened the scoring for the Reds, heading home a Steven Gerrard corner, but Park Ji-sung brought the visitors level shortly before half-time.

United enjoyed plenty of possession in midfield but struggled to find their way past the Liverpool defence and they were punished when Kuyt provided the decisive strike.

Tensions between the two clubs had been high prior to this match following the fallout of their last meeting at Anfield, but while Patrice Evra was booed by the home fans throughout, the game itself proved a low-key affair until Kuyt's dramatic winner.

Kenny Dalglish opted to remove, Kuyt, Craig Bellamy, Glen Johnson and Charlie Adam from the team that beat Manchester City in the League Cup on Wednesday. Instead Andy Carroll started in attack, with Maxi Rodriguez replacing Kuyt on the right wing. Martin Kelly came in at right-back, with Jamie Carragher providing a defensive presence in central midfield.

Wayne Rooney failed to recover from injury in time for the tie, so Sir Alex Ferguson added an extra man in midfield in the form of Paul Scholes while Park replaced the injured Nani on the left wing.

Chances from distance for Rodriguez and Ryan Giggs aside, the battle of the opening 15 minutes took place largely in midfield. In terrific form but without his partner in crime, Nani, on the opposite flank, Antonio Valencia would be relied upon as a primary creative force for United on the right-hand side and he burst past Rodriguez before thumping a 20-yard shot against Pepe Reina's far post.

United goalkeeper David De Gea has sometimes looked uncertain when dealing with high balls into the penalty area this season and Liverpool were determined to exploit that potential weakness from the first minute. Each set-piece saw the Spaniard crowded by three or four red shirts and he was left stranded when Gerrard curled a corner into the six-yard box that Agger rose to head home.

Danish delight | Agger opens the scoring for Liverpool at Anfield

The away side dominated the ball for long periods from that point, patiently probing for a gap to take advantage of in the Liverpool defence. They found it when Valencia's flick drew Jose Enrique and Rafael into a race for the ball that the Brazilian won. The right-back cut a cross back into the penalty area into the path of Park, who hammered a first-time shot beyond Reina.

Agger and Chris Smalling both survived handball appeals in their own area early in the second half; the home side's claim on the latter incident was strongest, but both were from close range and neither could be judged as deliberate.

Minutes later Welbeck timed a run between Kelly and Martin Skrtel to perfection to bear down on Reina, but after flicking the ball past the onrushing Spanish goalkeeper, Skrtel recovered to clear into touch.

Dalglish and Ferguson threw Bellamy and Javier Hernandez into the fray as the match entered its closing stages, with neither manager apparently keen on the idea of a replay.

Liverpool finished strongly, with Carroll a willing runner, and while the big centre-forward could not find the target himself he provided the crucial flick-on to allow substitute Kuyt to race through and fire beyond De Gea.

The Dutchman might have put a gloss on the victory when he followed up a Carroll header that had bounced back off the post, but he sent his shot on the run wide from close range. It mattered not, as Dalglish's team held out to seal their place in the fifth round.

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