A massive day on Merseyside turned out to be fortunate for Manchester United, as they came through to win 2-1 at Anfield. A Steven Gerrard goal just after half time, gave 10 men Liverpool a deserved lead, however that was canceled out by a wonderfully taken goal by Rafael. WIth 15 minutes left, Antonio Valencia was adjudged to have been brought down by Glen Johnson for a penalty. Robin Van Persie knew better than to try a daft chip, and despite Pepe Reina's best efforts, slotted it home.
Liverpool dominated the first half. An early Ryan Giggs chance flew past the post, but other than that, I can't remember another chance for us. Defensively, we looked a little shaky. Rafael defended his back post well on a couple of crosses, but Patrice Evra on the other side looked to be getting beat from the wonderful talent that is Raheem Sterling far too much. At one point, the teenager shrugged the Frenchman off the ball far too easily and that lead to a decent chance. Anders Lindegaard, preferred in goal instead of David De Gea, stood up to the challenge well.
The main talking point of the first half was Jon Jo Shelvy's sending off. Debatable. There are 50-50 challenges, and then there are fifty fifty challenges. This was about as even as you could get. Both players went in hard, and both brought their "second leg" through, probably as more protection to themselves rather than to hurt the other man. It was Jonny Evans however that got to the ball a split second quicker. If it was the other way around, I am sure it would have been a red for our man. I personally think both challenges were as bad as each other. I would have been happy with a yellow each.
In the second half, it was the inspired Steven Gerrard who broke the deadlock. He himself had lost his cousain in the tragedy at Hillsbrough, and his celebration was indicative of that. You could see how much it meant to him. He lost his man in the penalty area, and although Jonny Evans enjoyed a good game, that was on him. Im also going to put a bit of blame on Evra here too! He was looking right along the line. He could see the whole passage of play. He should be organising and telling Jonny to get tighter.
We hit right back however. The ball fell in the area to Shinji Kagawa, who was quiet throughout. However his one moment of class was.... class! He cushioned the ball back beautifully for Rafael. When he took it onto his weaker foot the chance looked gone. Yet he bent it into the top corner. Outstanding goal.
As the game wore on it looked as though the man disadvantage would pay on Liverpool. And so it proved when Valencia broke out at the half way line, stealing the ball away from two red shirts. A 3-2 situation developed, however Valencia hesitated as he entered the box. No fear however, as the scrambling Johnson "fouled" Tony V! Again, the contact was minimal. However I can see why the Ref gave it. Johnson made no contact with the ball, and although there was little contact, when Valencia went down, it must have looked as though it was because of the defender. That doesn't mean it was the correct decision.... It just means I can see why he gave it....
RVP stepped up (Unlike Wednesday night) and slotted it home, via a Reina hand. After which, the game petered out some.
It is a big three points for us, yet there are still questions to be answered. Patrice Evra must be fearing for his place. Im sorry, but I would much prefer, and feel safer, if Buttner was played. The Frenchman is too much of a liability im afraid. Nani again was frustrating. Time and again he will beat a man, but he has no end product at all. At one point he was running at the defence, yet his pass to Valencia was cut out easily. I am running out of patience with him. I would love for him to prove me wrong, but maybe his time is running out at United, as contract talks continue. He was hauled off at half time for Paul Scholes.
Out next outing is against Newcastle on Wednesday night in the league Cup. Make sure you join us!