Liverpool 3 United 1: Report and Player Ratings From Anfield

By on March 6, 2011

In the 182nd edition of the North West Derby, Manchester United suffered an embarrassing 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat to hands of their most bitter rival, Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt scored three of the most simplest of goals that he will ever score, two in a five minute span, but to add some gloss to United’s miserable performance, Javier Hernandez scored in stoppage time for the visiting Reds.

The dismal result not only saw United lose for the first time in back-to-back matches in nearly two years, but it also blew the Premier League title race wide open handing Arsenal yet another lifeline at the top of the table. Sir Alex Ferguson made four changes to the United starting XI that lost to Chelsea in the midweek as the Reds look to avoid losing back-to-back matches for the first time since the spring of 2009.

Two of those changes come in the back-four with Rafael and Wes Brown set to anchor the right side of the defense replacing John O’Shea, who started five straight matches, and the suspended Nemanja Vidic. Ryan Giggs, who is making his club-record 607th league appearance for United, replaces Darren Fletcher, and Dimitar Berbatov comes in for Javier Hernandez, which means that the Gaffer will be going with a straight 4-4-2 formation against Liverpool.

Recap

The first chance of the match came when Rafael was caught too far forward, and Liverpool broke into the United half, but, thankfully, Luis Suárez miscued his chance directly at Edwin van der Sar. That good chance encouraged the home side, and after some good interchange Maxi Rodriguez flashed his shot across the face of the United goal, but it lack any accuracy and went out for a goal kick.

Two misplaced passes from Paul Scholes invited Suárez to have another go, but, this time, his left-footed effort was high and wide of the United goal. Patrice Evra, who was stand-in captain for the day, dispossessed a surging Glen Johnson and picked out Berbatov, and with his markers dropping off defending the runs of Giggs and Rooney, he was encouraged to shoot, but it was directly at Pepe Reina.

In the 16th minute, some very good combination play between Berbatov and Rooney ended with a long-distance shot from the Bulgarian, which clanged off the outside of the far post. Two minutes later, Liverpool had a golden chance, themselves.

Johnson spotted Raul Meireles’ unmarked run into the United penalty area, and the midfielder’s cushioned header should have been tapped in by Suarez, but he, somehow, missed the ball and van der Sar collected. United was about to take a corner kick, but there was a delay in the game when Fabio Aurelio was on the ground clutching his left hamstring, so Kenny Daglish was forced to make his first substitution of the match in the 23rd minute with the introduction of Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

From that ensuing set piece, Berbatov got a header on Giggs’ corner and Brown got a the slightest of touches, but it was hammered off the line by a Liverpool defender. Phil Dowd awarded Liverpool a free-kick in a very dangerous area after Paul Scholes went in with wild swing of the boot on Lucas, and from the resulting set piece Gerrard struck it into the wall and out for a corner.

Liverpool got into the lead on the 34 minute. Surrounded by defenders, Suarez danced through at least four United defenders, and was able to slide the ball underneath a helpless van der Sar, and Dirk Kuyt tapped it into the unguarded net. The goal definitely inspired Liverpool, and a defensive mistake gave the home crowd even more reason to start cheering.

Suarez sent in a very simple cross into the United penalty, which, under no pressure, Nani got his angles completely wrong on his header, and the ball went directly to Kuyt to head passed a stranded van der Sar. On the stroke of halftime, the derby started to boil over after a very, unnecessary challenge by Jamie Carragher on Nani that resulted in a yellow card, but the replays showed his strong, studs-showing tackle was worthy of a straight red card. [See a close-up of the Nani injury here]

van der Sar was also showed a yellow card for consistently protesting the decisions of the referee and his assistant on the far side. Even though he raced over to show the referee the marks of the awful challenge, a tearful Nani had to be stretchered off, and was eventually replaced by Chicharito.

To add insult to injury, Rafael was awarded a yellow card for a wild, reckless challenge, and Dowd also correctly booked Martin Skrtel as he tried to bully the young full-back. After five minutes of complete animosity, the referee could not blew his halftime whistle to temporarily defuse the tempers of the players.

The second half got underway with Liverpool forced van der Sar into making the first save of the half. A clever flick by Suarez made its way to Meireles, and the advanced midfielder cut the ball back to Gerrard, but van der Sar did well to hang on to the ball. The big Dutchman’s clearance made its way to Giggs, and the winger played the ball to Berbatov down the right-hand flank, and his cross was met by Chicharito, but he was put off just a bit by Kyrgiakos and sent his shot wide of the mark.

In the 55th minute, Rooney drilled a cross into the Liverpool area, which Giggs met first time and bent it just over Reina’s crossbar. Rooney whipped in a cross to the far post, and it was hit back across the face of goal and Berbatov planted a header destined for the back of the net, but Meireles blocked it with his midriff.

Kyrgiakos pulled down Berbatov on the edge of the Liverpool area, but Giggs’ effort bent too late as it sailed over the junction of Reina’s right-hand post and crossbar. At the other end, Kuyt spotted another good run by Meireles, but his left-footed shot-cross was parried away by van der Sar and mopped up by Evra.

Brown fouled Kuyt 25-yards from goal, which Suarez bent around the United wall, and van der Sar fumbled it and his fellow Dutchman pounced quickest to hammer home his third goal of the match. The goal took the rest of the wind out of the United sails, and the Reds looked content to avoid any further embarrassment.

Daglish made his second change of the match, a debut for Andy Carroll, who was the most expensive English footballer, replacing the very effective Meireles. Keen to stop the bleeding in the back, Sir Alex sent John O’Shea came on for Rafael to add more height and experience in defense.

To sum up derisory United’s afternoon they were given two free-kicks in very dangerous areas, but Rooney and Giggs completely mishit them and failed to ask any questions of Liverpool. Even though he completed his hat-trick already, Kuyt was given a chance to add to it, but he blasted the shot into Liverpool supporters in the Kop end.

Before he could be substituted, Scholes earned himself a cheap yellow card for a cynical challenge and was replaced by Darren Fletcher, who just signed a new long-term deal with the club. Brown put a hard, but fair challenge on Suarez, but the ball squirmed to Gerrard and the Liverpool captain wanted to drive the nail into the United coffin, but his hammering drive flew inches wide of van der Sar’s right-hand post.

Moments after laying on the Anfield pitch writhing in pain, Suarez sped passed lifeless United defenders, but screwed his shot wide of the near post. United had a couple of half chances to make it a respectable scoreline, Carrick and Rooney both missed chances.

Daglish brought Joe Cole on only to give Suarez a chance to be greeted by a round of applause by the majority of the crowd inside of Anfield. With just three minutes of injury time to be played, Hernandez headed a goal back for United. Like the 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford in 2009, Liverpool cruised to a three goal win by punishing Manchester United with three terrible mistakes, and it will be interesting to see how the Reds respond to this catastrophic, unconvincing performance at Anfield.

Ratings

E. van der Sar – 6; Rafael – 4 (J. O’Shea – 5), C. Smalling – 4, W. Brown – 5, P. Evra – 5; Nani – 4 (J. Hernandez – 5), M. Carrick – 5, P. Scholes – 5, R. Giggs – 6; W. Rooney – 5, D. Berbatov – 5

Goals

J. Hernandez (90+)

Watch Video Highlights Here

Statistics

  • Possession: 58%
  • Corners: 4
  • Shots (On Target): 13 (3)
  • Fouls Conceded (Suffered): 13 (12)
  • Bookings: E. van der Sar, Rafael, P. Scholes
  • Attendance: 44,753

Submitted by The United Religion

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One Comment

  1. sanchit

    March 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Liverpool defender? It was Raul Mereiles.
    Also, the ‘Johnson cross’ was put in by Suarez, and the cushioned header by Mereiles was for Kuyt, who should have got there.

    Watch the match sometimes.
    And, improve your grammar.

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