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Manchester United (Ronaldo pen. 23′) 1-4 Liverpool (Torres 28′, Gerrard pen. 44′, Aurelio 76′, Dossena 90′ + 1)
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 14 March 2009
Kickoff: 12:45 GMT, 8:45 ET
Liverpool picked up a huge win against first-place Manchester United, winning 4-1 at Old Trafford to close to within 4 points with a United game-in-hand! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
With a seven-point lead and a game in hand, most people are ready to concede that the Premiership Trophy will be staying in Old Trafford for at least one more year. Rafa Benitez is not one of them. After Liverpool’s resounding win against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, Benitez believes that his team is hitting its stride and is ready to get back in the title race. Even if they win at Old Trafford, they’ll still need United to collapse down the stretch. However, stranger things have happened, and United will be spread thin with their European and domestic commitments.
Liverpool defeated Manchester United at Anfield for the first time since 2001 when the teams met back in September, leading many to believe that this was Liverpool’s year. Things have changed since then, and Liverpool’s domestic form has been erratic, to say the least. However, Benitez has reason to be optimistic going into this match. After many false starts, Gerrard and Torres are both fit and ready to terrorize Premiership teams the way they did with Real Madrid in midweek. Remember, Gerrard came off the bench in the first meeting between these two clubs and Torres didn’t play at all. If Liverpool can beat Manchester United without their two best players, then why shouldn’t the result be the same with them in the lineup, right?
Well, for one thing, that match wasn’t at Old Trafford, where United have only dropped points to one opponent all year. For another thing, that United team weren’t on a run of tremendous form like the one they’ve been on since coming back from Japan. Manchester United are riding an 11-match win streak in the Premiership and haven’t lost in the league since November 8. They’re also coming off a pretty big European win as well, knocking Inter Milan out of the Round of 16 and advancing to the Quarterfinals. Additionally, United won’t be under the kind of pressure that Liverpool will be under. United can afford to drop points here and still win the league title. If Liverpool don’t get a win, then they’re probably done, and they know it. That bit of psychology could be the biggest factor in this latest installment between hated rivals.
Will United continue steamrolling its way to another Premiership title? Or will Liverpool make things interesting down the stretch? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (c), Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Anderson, Park, Rooney, Tevez.
Subs: Foster, Berbatov, Giggs, Nani, Scholes, Evans, Fletcher.
A couple of interesting choices by Sir Alex. Anderson makes a rare start and will partner Carrick in the center of midfield, while Tevez will get the nod over Berbatov. I guess he’s putting a premium on winning balls in midfield and hounding the Liverpool players as much as possible.
Liverpool Reina Carragher, Skrtel, Hyypia, Aurelio, Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard (c), Riera, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Babel, Insua, Ngog, El Zhar, Arbeloa.
The big news is that Xabi Alonso is injured and will miss out, which is a huge blow for Liverpool. Doubly so since it means that Lucas will make the start in his place. The other change from the side that defeated Real Madrid is Riera’s return to the lineup in place of Babel. Arbeloa was announced as a starter at right back, but he’s a late scratch and will be replaced in the lineup by Hyypia.
90′ + 4 United have quit and are just passing it back to Van der Sar. There’s the whistle and we’re done! What a huge win for Liverpool and we could yet have a title race after all! Thanks to everyone who followed along and please join me tomorrow as Manchester City will take on Chelsea!
90′ + 3 El Zhar with a dangerous cross into the box, and Ferdinand nearly puts it in the back of his own net. It’s out for a corner, instead, and United clear it away easily.
90′ + 2 Rooney comes back and tries to send the cross from the right edge of the box to Ronaldo. Giggs gets it and tries to lay it off to a player behind him that’s not really there.
90′ + 1 GOAL Not sure how this happened. Long goal kick from Reina and it’s more sloppiness from the United defense. This time O’Shea is the culprit as he misjudges the bounce and Dossena gets behind him. He chips it over Van der Sar’s head and he’s helpless to do anything besides watch it go in. Actually, Van der Sar hasn’t had a bad afternoon despite the 4 goals. He was hung out to dry on the first goal, nearly stopped the penalty, and was helpless on the last two goals. Not much consolation to him, I’m sure.
90′ Rooney hasn’t quit playing and he makes a good run towards the box. He sends it to Berbatov, who tries to cross it to Ronaldo. It’s knocked out to the edge of the box, and Rooney tries a shot that’s off the mark. Meanwhile, El Zhar will come on for Gerrard.
89′ Oh well. Ronaldo hits the wall and that’s probably that. The ensuing corner is cleared by Hyypia.
88′ Giggs sends in a good ball into the box for Berbatov. He turns and tries to shoot, but it’s blocked. Mascherano then commits a foul on the edge of the box, and let’s see what Ronaldo can do here.
87′ Rooney with a great move to get past Dossena on the left. He sends a beautiful cross to the far post for Ronaldo, but he muffs his shot chance. That was probably their best chance to get back in this game.
86′ Berbatov gets away and hits the post, but he’s flagged for being offside. It’s been that kind of day for United.
85′ Chance for four as Dossena sends in the cross from the left wing and Babel has it in the center of the box. He lays it off to an unmarked Gerrard, but he shanks it over the bar. I would have bet my life savings that Gerrard would have scored there. Good thing I didn’t.
84′ Long cross from Ronaldo on the left wing and Rooney does well to keep it from going over the end-line, but Reina cuts it out.
81′ Torres comes off and he’ll be replaced by Babel. He didn’t do much in the second half, but he was the best player on the pitch, by far, the first half.
80′ Do United have two goals in them with only 10 men? I doubt it. They look deflated and stunned.
77′ Not sure if that red card was warranted. Ferdinand looks like he could have made it over to cover, but it’s academic as Aurelio’s free kick was always going in.
76′ GOAL! Aurelio takes the free kick from the edge of the box, and it’s a wonderfully struck ball that curls over the wall and Van der Sar doesn’t even move as it goes into the net!
75′ SENDING OFFKuyt flicks it behind to Gerrard, and Gerrard has a chance to get through on goal until Vidic takes him down. Was he the last defender? Apparently so. It’s red and Vidic is off.
74′ Long pass from Giggs to Tevez into the box, but he can’t control it. Tevez hasn’t had a great day, either.
73′ Here come the Three Amigos! Okay, maybe not. It’s Scholes for Anderson, Berbatov for Park, and Giggs for Carrick. Well, two-out-three ain’t bad. Carrick hasn’t had a great afternoon, to be fair, but they’ll miss his long-range passing.
72′ Ronaldo goes for the long-range shot, and it’s well over the crossbar. He had Tevez in the box, but he chose to go it alone there. Meanwhile, looks like Giggs, Scholes, and Berbatov are coming on. I’d guess that Park, Anderson, and Tevez will come off.
71′ Great pass from Carrick, who plays it over-the-top to Tevez. He can’t control his body, though, and it’s well wide of the post. He looks like he was offside, but it doesn’t matter in the end.
69′ Reina takes his sweet time setting up the free kick. At least he didn’t do what Lehmann did and throw the ball away by “accident.”
67′ Change for Liverpool as Dossena will come on for Riera. Looks like he’s bringing the bus onto the field.
66′ Riera sends in a cross from left wing, but his ball into the box is knocked out by Ferdinand. Lucas then tries a shot from distance, but it’s easily handled by Van der Sar.
64′ Skrtel is booked for a foul on Tevez. Meanwhile, the sidelines are crowded as both teams have several guys warming up. Looks like Giggs, Scholes, and Berbatov for United and Babel and two others (they weren’t facing the camera) for Liverpool.
63′ Great chance for United as Ronaldo sends a great cross from the right edge of the box to the far post where Rooney tries to tap it in. He can’t get it on target and the ball goes across the center of the box where Tevez is lurking. He can’t get on the end of it, though, and Liverpool escape! They’re knocking on the door.
62′ Rooney gets it in the box and shoots on goal. It takes a deflection off Carragher and is out for a corner. He’s lucky that didn’t go in the back of his net. Anderson with a poor corner but he gets it back and tries to send it to Rooney. He can’t handle it, though, and Liverpool have it.
61′ Carrick tries to curl in the free kick, but it’s easily cut out by the Liverpool defense. Carrick hasn’t had a great afternoon.
60′ Long pass to Park and he’s nearly through on goal. Reina is out and he knocks it away. Meanwhile Mascherano picks up a booking for committing one too many fouls, but he keeps his cool.
59′ Lucas gives it away and Carrick takes it. He tries to send it to Rooney, but his shot is blocked. Park gets it back and he tries to chip it forward to Ronaldo, but he’s way offside and he doesn’t go for it.
57′ Ronaldo has a free kick from the left corner of the box. He tricks the defense and passed it into the box to Tevez, who then forces a corner from Reina. On the corner, Reina fumbles it and Tevez nearly pounces on the loose ball before Reina covers it up.
56′ Another sloppy play from United that’s nearly cut out by Torres. He would have been through on goal, but he’s ruled offside.
55′ Ronaldo’s kick takes a deflection and it bounces to Vidic. He does an overhead kick and he wants handball in the box. No dice, though, and Liverpool clear it from danger.
54′ Mascherano gives away a foul on Anderson on the left corner of the box, and I think Ronaldo will take it again.
53′ Ronaldo avoids the wall, and it takes a bounce on the pitch, but Reina ends up handling it easily. Nice pass from Anderson through to Park in the box, but Aurelio is there to knock it away for a United throw.
52′ Lucas fouls Rooney, and Ronaldo will have a chance from about 30 yards out or so.
50′ Torres with a challenge on Carrick, and he’s limping. Don’t worry Liverpool fans. At least you have Ngog, as Benitez likes to point out.
49′ Nice backheel by Park as he sends it to O’Shea, who makes the overlapping run down the right flank. Liverpool take it away, though, and that’s the end of that chapter.
48′ Ronaldo sends in a cross from the left wing that actually manages to hit the post. Don’t think that was intentional, but it gave Reina all kinds of problems.
47′ Great cross by O’Shea into the box for Rooney, but it’s just over his head.
46′ Liverpool kick off and we’re underway! No changes for either side. Evra quickly gives up a corner as the ball bounces awkwardly off his head. That won’t make Sir Alex very happy. Nothing doing on the corner, though, and United try to break. Rooney tries to thread it through to Tevez, but Aurelio intercepts it. Carrick gets it and tries a long cross from the right wing to Ronaldo, but it’s over his head.
46′ Very sloppy first half from United, and I have no doubt that Ferguson pulled out the hairdryer for his halftime speech. Let’s hope he doesn’t kick any stray boots.
Well, it was an exciting half of football, even if the quality of play wasn’t that high. Errors by both sides have resulted in all three of the goals scored, and United have no one to blame but themselves for their situation. With the Inter match, this marks three consecutive sloppy halves from United, which is nothing short of surprising. Then again, maybe this is the kick in the pants they need to get out of second gear. As for Liverpool, it’s not a deserved lead, but they’ll certainly take it. It’ll be interesting to see if Benitez parks the bus in front of goal for the second half.
45′ + 3 Tevez comes back and makes the run into the box. Mascherano is there to knock it away for a corner. Tevez sends it to Vidic, but he and O’Shea get crossed up and Liverpool clear it away. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime!
45′ + 2 Gerrard will play it quickly from 35 yards out, but Alan Wiley stops it. Aurelio taps it to Gerrard and he tries to long-range shot from the edge of the box, but it’s blocked.
45′ + 1 Can’t complain about the refereeing. Both penalties were deserved. Meanwhile, Torres hits the deck again, and he draws the foul.
45′ Well, time to see what United are made of. Van der Sar gets booked for his theatrics, but I doubt he really cares about that.
44′ GOAL! Gerrard steps up and Van der Sar starts jawing at him. Gerrard sends it low and to his right, and Van der Sar guesses correctly, but can’t keep it out. Gerrard then kisses the badge and Liverpool fans are feeling good.
43′ Torres plays it through to Gerrard in the box, and he beats Evra into the box. Evra reaches back and tackles Gerrard late. It’s a penalty! Oh boy…
42′ Ronaldo tries to make the run down the right, but he’s marked by two men once again. Carrick gets it and he makes a nice turn against Lucas. Carrick goes for goal from distance, but it’s over the crossbar.
40′ Park and Evra do the overlap along the left wing, and Carragher gives away another corner. He doesn’t look comfortable at right-back at all. More comfortable than Skrtel did a couple of weeks ago, although that’s not saying much. Rooney sends the corner in, but Gerrard clears it away. Anderson is then called for a foul and Liverpool will kick it away.
39′ They try to go long again, but this time, Vidic deals with it easily.
37′ Another long-pass from Liverpool, and they seem to have stumbled upon a winning strategy. Wonder if they’ve exposed a weakness in United’s defense, or if they’re just getting lucky.
36′ Waste of a kick as Ronaldo tries some trickery and sends it to Rooney. It’s a poor play, though, and Rooney’s kick from the edge of the box is blocked easily. Long pass to Gerrard, and it’s trouble for United once again, but Evra does a great job to head it away. Ferdinand is then booked for a foul on Kuyt.
35′ Tevez and Park play some good passing along the left edge of the box, and Tevez gets tripped on the edge of the box by Carragher as he’s about to go through on goal. Smart foul by Carragher, who gets booked for his troubles.
34′ Ronaldo sends the free kick into the box, but Liverpool knock it away for a throw. Vidic wins it back from Torres and lays it off to Ronaldo. He gets fouled and he’ll have a free kick from about 35 yards out. Probably too far for him, but you never know. Sure enough, he goes for goal and it takes a slight deflection and confuses Reina. He can’t handle it and Tevez tries to pounce on the loose ball, but Reina smothers it.
33′ Mascherano with a hard foul on Anderson, and Alan Wiley calls him over for a talk. We’ve seen this before…
32′ Tevez collides with Mascherano, and the two Argentines make peace. Somewhere, Maradona is smiling. Especially if he’s taken his happy pills.
31′ Torres nearly makes something happen again, putting the ball through Evra’s legs and getting into the box. Vidic is there to knock it away for a corner and he still looks upset with his mistake. Gerrard’s corner fails to clear the first man, but Liverpool come back with another effort. Torres goes down in the box, but no call. He’s hit the deck more often in this match than Ronaldo has.
30′ Park wins a corner, and Rooney sends it from the left flag to the far post. It’s over Ronaldo’s head and it goes out for a goal kick.
29′ Well, that will certainly change the complexion of this match. Old Trafford is in stunned silence right now. Other than the Liverpool fans, of course.
28′ GOAL! Terrible play from Vidic (don’t see that happen too often) on the long-ball to Torres. Torres goes in all alone, and he beats Van der Sar easily. Vidic misjudged the ball and whiffed horribly on it, allowing Torres to get in behind him. That’s a shocker.
27′ Torres is down on the pitch after a collision with Ferdinand, and that’s not a good sign for Liverpool.
26′ Ronaldo sends a cross from the right edge to the far post where Rooney has to work to keep it from going out. He gets closed down by Hyypia, and Rooney can’t do much with the ball. Poor play by Ronaldo, as Rooney was all alone before Hyypia got to him.
23′ GOAL! Ronaldo takes the penalty and actually doesn’t do the stutter step this time. He steps up and Reina guesses correctly, but he can’t stop it. Wow. What a great strike!
22′ Gerrard serves it into the box for Skrtel, but the ball eludes him and is out for a goal kick. United charge and Tevez sends a great ball into the box for Park. Reina comes out and takes Park down and it’s a penalty! Stupid play from Reina and he knows it. Park didn’t have a good angle to score there, but Reina still gave up the penalty. To his credit, he doesn’t argue too vociferously, and neither do his teammates.
21′ Foul on Anderson and Gerrard will have a chance from about 35 yards out or so. Probably too far for him to score.
20′ Beautiful turn from Torres in the box as he flat-foots Ferdinand, but Vidic is there to cover and he knocks it out for a throw.
19′ Liverpool pass it around the perimeter and seem to be playing keep-away. Little early for that, don’t you think?
18′ Ronaldo tries to make the run down the right, but he’s double covered and loses it. They’ve been playing him very tight today, and as a result, he hasn’t had too many touches.
17′ Liverpool go on the counterattack with Torres, and he looks like he’s going to take off in full flight. However, Park does a great job to track back and slow him down. As such, he gives the defense time to get settled, and they cause Kuyt to give it away.
16′ Rooney’s corner from the left flag goes towards the far post to Ferdinand, but Carragher knocks it out for another corner. Another corner, this one from the opposite flag, and this one goes towards Rooney at the far post. He tries to send a hard cross towards Ronaldo, but it’s knocked away by Liverpool.
15′ Carragher gives away the needless corner as he tries to head it back to his keeper, but he puts too much on it and Reina can’t keep it from going out past the endline.
14′ After a furious start from United, Liverpool have settled in and have controlled most of the match.
13′ United go on the counter-attack, but Rooney’s cross from the left edge of the box to Ronaldo is long and is out for a goal kick.
12′ Gerrard gets behind the defense and nearly causes some havoc in the United box. Vidic slows him down and Van der Sar comes off his line and knocks it away to Ferdinand. He holds it in the box, which draws pressure from Torres, but he ultimately clears it away.
11′ Almost a terrible howler from Skrtel as he sends a low cross near his own box that Rooney nearly intercepts with his head. If that were Berbatov, then he would have had it and he would have been through on goal. Meanwhile, Skrtel comes back and tries to go it alone in United box. Ferdinand easily takes it from him, though .
9′ Lucas makes a good run from the edge of the box, and I’m surprised he doesn’t shoot it. He tries to tee it up for Gerrard, but Ferdinand takes it.
8′ Long pass to Gerrard on the edge of the United box, and it bounces off the pitch and causes some confusion for him and Vidic. If Gerrard had been able to get on the end of it, then it would have been trouble for United.
7′ Anderson shoves Torres near the center-circle, and this time, the Spaniard gets the call.
6′ Torres goes down on the edge of the box and he wants the foul. No dice, and it was a clear, uh, I don’t want to say “dive,” but let’s just say that he went down really easily.
4′ Nothing doing on the corner, as Anderson’s service is cleared from danger.
3′ Tevez sends in a high cross from the right flank into the box, but it’s over Rooney’s head. Ronaldo then sends in a dangerous cross from the right flank that trickles between Tevez and Rooney in the box. Park trails it and sends in a shot that’s knocked out for a corner.
2′ Rooney’s corner fails to clear the first man. United come back and Rooney attacks Carragher down the left flank once again. He gets bumped off the ball and Reina has it.
1′ United kicks off and we’re underway! Alan Wiley is the ref. Rooney (who hates Liverpool, surprisingly) wins a corner down the left flank.
0′ Apparently, Berbatov is nursing a slight ankle injury that he suffered in the Inter match, so that’s why he’s on the bench. Makes sense. They didn’t bring him here so that he could sit on the bench for a match of this magnitude. Meanwhile, Hyypia is frantically warming up on the pitch since he didn’t get word of the switch until the last minute. Maybe United should attack him early on?
0′ Strange development as Hyypia lines up in the tunnel even though he was announced as a sub. It looks like Arbeloa is out, which means that Carragher will slide over to right-back. They’d be wise not to use Skrtel there, considering that he’s still suffering from the third-degree burns that Stewart Downing inflicted on him the last time he tried to play at right back.
0′ And, because I’m sure they’ll talk about this at length, it’s been 64 days since Rafa’s rant against Sir Alex. In that time, Liverpool have gone from seven points clear of Manchester United to seven points down. Talk about turning things upside down.
0′ Interesting that Manchester United will go with Anderson instead of Fletcher. Big spot for a player who hasn’t been in good form and hasn’t played much first-team football this season. Then again, I’ve learned not to second-guess Sir Alex over his personnel decisions. Except for Juan Sebastian Veron, of course.
0′ Liverpool are feeling pretty confident going into this match. Not sure if it’s warranted, considering their domestic form as well as the fact that they just beat down an overrated and soft Real Madrid squad.
0′ Want to know how long it’s been since these two teams last played each other? Owen Hargreaves played in that match.
0′ With seven points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table (and holding a game-in-hand against Pompey, so you might as well make it 10), Liverpool absolutely have to win this match in order to have any chance at winning the title. There’s no other option for them.
0′ Hello everyone! Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the gargantuan clash between Manchester United and Liverpool! I’m Victor and I’ll be your live-blogger today! As always, here’s how you can watch live football online.
Well, there are two ways to look at this match. On Liverpool’s side, they went to Old Trafford and outplayed Manchester United, putting up four goals and deservedly winning the match. They really answered the call and put all the controversy behind them. They only gave up one goal, on a stupid penalty that they didn’t need to give up, and really hounded Manchester United’s vaunted defense all day long. They’ll hope that this, along with the Real Madrid match, is a sign that they’re peaking at the right time. Their squad depth is still a concern, but there’s a lot to be happy about with this result. Of course, Torres was limping a little bit, and his condition could make or break things as far as their title chances go.
As for Manchester United, they can look at this match as one that got away. Sure, they lost 4-1, but all four goals resulted from silly defensive lapses that they usually don’t make. They were overdue for a match like this, and it’s better to get it all out of the system in one fell swoop than to do it over the span of a few weeks. Unless it’s a sign of things to come for their injury-depleted defense, of course. Plus, it wasn’t like their defense was the only part of their team that faltered. Sloppy giveaways in midfield and a lackluster game up front by Ronaldo and Tevez doomed them from the start. They’ve had two consecutive matches where they’ve been less than sharp, and maybe they needed a kick in the pants to regain their edge. Sir Alex will have to put back the pieces of this team’s shattered confidence and hope that this was an aberration rather than the beginning of a trend.
Man of the Match:
There’s been a lot of talk about Nemanja Vidic as the favorite for the PFA Player of the Year award. Well, if that’s the case, then Torres can make the claim that he single-handedly owned the best player in the Premiership. Vidic had a terrible afternoon trying to mark Torres, and it cost his team dearly. Torres’ goal swung the momentum over to Liverpool, and Vidic’s confidence was shaken so much that he was largely ineffective for the remainder of the match, which came to a premature end as he got sent off and will miss out on the next three (or so) league matches. Torres’ performance made up for a surprising no-show from Gerrard, and a lackluster effort from the likes of Lucas, Riera, and Kuyt. As for United, Rooney was their best player, consistently threatening down the flanks only to be let down by his teammates. You can point a lot of fingers at the United lineup, but Rooney certainly showed up to play.