Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United: United attempt fightback but can't overcome woeful first half

Alex Livesey

David Moyes suffered his first defeat as Manchester United manager in a narrow 1-0 loss in a ferociously-contested game against Liverpool at Anfield.

To mark the 100th birthday of Bill Shankly, a true legend and gentleman of the game who fostered much mutual respect between two of England's greatest clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool kicked lumps out of each other in an evil-tempered game that was low on quality and high on nastiness.

United were far more positive than against Chelsea, but suffered an early sucker-punch as Steven Gerrard's corner found Daniel Agger, whose goalbound header was deflected in by Daniel Sturridge from close range to put the hosts in the lead straight away.

United looked to snatch a goal back immediately, with Robin van Persie hooking an overhead kick over the bar before Danny Welbeck saw a shot blocked by Glen Johnson as David Moyes' men looked promising, although things were to change.

Thereafter, United suffered from - guess - their lack of a midfield, with all four of Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley (in order of worst first, unusually) all over the place and failing to get any sort of control on the game.

The temper of the game soured towards the end of the half as Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley both got yellow cards for poor challenges before Robin van Persie and Steven Gerrard exchanged frank differences of opinion at a time that it seemed impossible for United to end the game with eleven men on the pitch.

After half time, however, the game turned on it's head. United enjoyed their best spell of pressure shortly after the second half kicked off, a pair of corners seeing Van Persie and then Ashley Young having goalbound shots blocked with Liverpool on the ropes. United continued to impose themselves, Valencia escaping down the right channel but being denied by Jose Enrique, before Carrick's clever pass found Young, who also couldn't beat his full-back.

United continued to pressure Liverpool, but couldn't force any clear chances as last-ditch defending kept the hosts' lead intact. Javier Hernandez and Nani entered the fray shortly afterwards as United looked to make their changes early enough to give them the last quarter of the game to attack, but they were unable to make an immediate impact.

Hernandez provided a fine opportunity as the game drew to a close through unexpected means as he produced a fine defence-splitting pass for Van Persie's run at the near post, but the Dutchman could only find the side-netting from close range.

That proved to be the last real chance from United - suffering from an appalling lack of creativity. It was a game that could easily have seen Moyes' men get something from it, but vast improvement is needed if the title is to be retained.

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