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Liverpool earned a stirring come-from-behind victory against Manchester United by the score of 2-1. Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live blog.
Simply put, it’s one of the greatest rivalries in the Premiership. They’re the two most successful English football clubs, both domestically and internationally. They’ve combined for 35 League Titles, 18 FA Cups, and 8 Champions League Titles. If baseball has Yankees/Red Sox, basketball has Celtics/Lakers, and football has Patriots/Everyone Else, then English football has the Northwest Derby.
However, it hasn’t been much of a rivalry in recent years. Sir Alex Ferguson has had Rafa Benitez’s number, so much so that he was, no doubt, pulling for Liverpool to defeat Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals last season. Manchester United beat Liverpool twice last year, and have won the last five Premiership fixtures between the two, including the last two at Anfield. In fact, Manchester United have not lost at Anfield since 2001.
Things certainly look bad for Liverpool as far as this fixture goes. Skipper Steven Gerrard has ruled himself out as he continues to recover from groin surgery (although Benitez says he might be fit in time for the match). Fernando Torres is still recovering from a hamstring tear but might be fit in time to face Man Utd. If Torres doesn’t play, then it might force Benitez to play Robbie Keane in the center, where he showed signs of life after Torres got hurt against Aston Villa.
Despite all the history between these two clubs, the man at the center of all the attention will be the man who has never taken part in a Northwest Derby. Dimitar Berbatov, the 30 million pound man, should make his debut for his new club. He would forever become a United legend if he were to score in his debut against a hated rival. They’ll need him to come up big, especially since they’ll probably be without Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick. Will Berbatov become the first United player to score besides Darren Fletcher?
In any case, it should be a great match. It’s Manchester United and Liverpool. What else do you need?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher (captain), Skrtel, Aurelio, Benayoun, Alonso, Mascherano, Riera, Kuyt, Keane.
Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Ngog, Torres, Gerrard, Babel
Riera will make his debut for his new club, moving into the starting lineup in place of Lucas. Aurelio replaced Dossena in the starting lineup and Benayoun will play on the wing so that Kuyt can play up front with Keane. Gerrard and Torres both passed their fitness tests and will come off the bench, giving Benitez some interesting late-match options.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand (captain), Vidic, Evra, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Tevez, Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Kuszczak, Hargreaves, Giggs, Nani, O’Shea, Fletcher, Evans.
Interesting, to say the least. Sir Alex is going with the three-headed monster up front with Berbatov slotting in next to Rooney and Tevez. Carrick’s return should boost the United midfield, and Anderson gets the start along with Scholes. The usual suspects are starting in defense, although no Gary Neville amongst the subs, which has to hurt the biggest Scouser-hater of them all. Hargreaves returns from his injury layoff, which is good, considering he’s a few more injuries away from replacing Saha as the most injured Man Utd. player ever. Goal-scoring machine, Fletcher, will lose his spot, making you wonder what a guy has to do to earn some playing time.
90′ + 4 Rooney has a good chance as Nani finds him just outside the box. Rooney is unmarked, but he sends it wide of the post. That was, most likely, Man Utd.’s last chance. Gerrard fouls Evra deep in Man Utd.’s own territory. Van der Sar tries to take it quickly, but there’s the whistle and it’s over.
90′ + 3 Rooney’s cross to Berbatov is knocked out by Gerrard for the corner. Van der Sar is coming up to help. Poor kick by Nani as he can’t get it past the first man.
90′ + 2 Babel makes a great move in the box. He sends it out to Kuyt, who’s wide open, but his shot is saved by Van der Sar. It goes out to Keane, but he can’t handle it and it’s out for a goal kick.
90′ + 1 Gerrard’s free kick finds Keane deep in the box, but Keane can’t get it on target. It goes out for a goal kick.
90′ Vidic goes for the ball and elbows Alonso in the head. That’s another yellow for Vidic and he’s sent off. Worse, he’ll miss the Chelsea match next week.
89′ Hargreaves gets his pocket picked by Alonso. It’s been that kind of day for Man Utd.
88′ Vidic is moving up front as Man Utd. try to get something going.
87′ Hyypia is coming on for Mascherano.
86′ Ferdinand sends in a great cross to Evra who’s deep down the left flank. Good move by Ferdinand since Mascherano was on Evra. Mascherano does what he can and knocks it out for a corner. He’s down on the pitch now, so it looks like he’s done.
85′ Keane fouls Hargreaves, but it’s in Man Utd.’s own half, so it’s relatively harmless. Keane is about to be subbed out, but Benitez is waving it off. Mascherano is limping, so I Benitez is going to want to keep Keane on.
84′ Babel is deep down the left flank. He sends it out to Keane, and his shot is blocked. It goes towards Babel, but he is clearly offsides, so he can’t go for the ball since Kuyt is nearby. That confusion allows Van der Sar to get it.
82′ Alonso with the touch to Gerrard. Gerrard then touches it to Aurelio, and it’s out for a corner. Evra clears the corner. Man Utd. just can’t get anything going. They still haven’t recovered from the own-goal.
81′ Man Utd. on the attack. Rooney sends it to Tevez. Tevez tries to give it back to Rooney, but his effort is blocked. Mascherano breaks and Nani with a tackle from behind that earns him a yellow. That didn’t take long.
79′ Good free kick opportunity for Liverpool. Aurelio’s kick is into the wall.
78′ Nani is on for Anderson. Evra gives it away in his own half. Keane takes it and breaks toward goal. Vidic takes him down outside the box, and he gets yellow. I’m surprised it wasn’t red. Ferdinand was covering him, so maybe that’s why.
77′ GOAL! Mascherano makes a great run into the box and turns Giggs inside out. He passes it Kuyt, who sends it out to an open Babel on the left side of the box. Babel then puts it past Van der Sar for the goal.
76′ Arbeloa sends it deep into the box for Babel. Ferdinand knocks it away, though.
75′ Nani is warming up, as he’s finally served his suspension.
74′ Liverpool on the attack. Gerrard runs down the left and lays it off for Babel. Babel tries to venture into the box, but he loses it. Tevez makes a strong run but Arbeloa knocks it away for a throw.
72′ Arbeloa gets the pass from Kuyt on the right side. He’s unmarked and goes for the shot, but then Tevez comes out of nowhere to block it.
71′ Babel is coming on for Reira. The fans give the new-boy a nice ovation.
70′ Giggs with a long-range effort that forces Reina to make a great save over the bar for a corner. That didn’t look like it was going to be close, but it was. Anyway, Liverpool clear away the corner.
69′ Giggs sends in a good cross into the box, but it’s behind Rooney and Co. Aurelio clears it away. The commentators are like “how to you prepare for Gerrard?” Easy. Trick him into thinking that he’s playing for England.
68′ Anfield explodes as Gerrard comes in for Benayoun.
67′ Man Utd. haven’t had much possession in this half. Rooney gives it away, which won’t help matters.
66′ Hargreaves is on and it’s Scholes that will come off. Let’s see what Saha, I mean Hargo can do.
64′ Hargreaves looks like he’s coming in. Hopefully, he doesn’t strain his hamstring while warming up. Carrick is on crutches, which is a bad sign.
63′ Interesting as Ferdinand has a chance to play it back to Van der Sar, but he doesn’t. He kicks it out for a throw. Let’s see if Liverpool can take advantage. Reira’s cross and Ferdinand knocks it away.
62′ Skrtel is open on the edge of the box, and he tests Van der Sar from long-range. It’s easily handled, but Van der Sar then kicks it out for a Liverpool throw. Well, his kicking has been suspect for a while, now.
61′ Benitez is going for it. He has Gerrard, Torres, and Babel warming up.
60′ Berbatov is back on the pitch. Meanwhile, Skrtel is called for the foul in the Liverpool half. Giggs’ free kick is into the box, and Reina has to come out and punch it away. He keeps going and then kicks it away.
59′ Giggs gets fouled, but no love from Howard Webb. Meanwhile, Berbatov is down. Uh oh. How bad would it be if he got hurt in his first match for Man Utd? Meanwhile, Liverpool are on the attack, but Aurelio is off sides.
58′ Reira tries the long-range shot, and it’s easily saved by Van der Sar.
57′ Alonso goes short on the corner. Aurelio’s cross is deflected to Kuyt, who’s unmarked on the edge of the box. He can’t handle it, though, and it goes out to Mascherano. He blasts one toward Keane, and Keane can’t handle it. Keane then goes down, but no call, and he didn’t deserve one.
56′ Keane with a great over-the-top lob to Benayoun, as he splits the defense. Van der Sar comes out and knocks it away for the corner.
55′ Kuyt gets it and blasts a long range effort that Van der Sar easily handles. Kuyt had guys on each side, although to be fair, both were marked.
54′ Scholes then gets called for the foul. Alonso gets it and sends his effort well over the bar.
53′ Terrible pass by Anderson as he gives it away to Benayoun. Luckily, it comes to nothing. Man Utd. back on the attack. Giggs gets the ball and sets up Scholes from just outside the box. Scholes’ shot is over the bar, but it was pretty close.
52′ Liverpool on the attack, but Reira’s cross is into the cheap seats.
50′ Berbatov flicks it on to Tevez. Tevez tries to slot it in to Rooney, but Liverpool get it. Kuyt back the other way as he gets in front of Vidic and tries to flick it to Benayoun, who’s trailing the play to the right. It’s over Benayoun’s head, and Van der Sar clears it.
49′ Alonso’s cross is knocked away by Berbatov. See? He plays defense too!
48′ Cross into the box for Reira, but Vidic knocks it away for another corner.
47′ Great cross from Keane that goes across the box again. Kuyt looks like he’ll get an easy goal, but Evra makes a great play to knock it away. Alonso sends it in near Van der Sar. He handles it, though.
46′ Rooney sends in a cross to Tevez in midfield. It’s deflected towards Giggs, but Tevez was called for a foul.
46′ Liverpool kick off and here we go. Aww… Keane and Berbatov have a happy reunion at midfield. I wonder what they’re saying to each other. “Man that Daniel Levy is a tool” might come to mind. Carrick is off and Giggs is on, not Hargreaves. Hmm…
Well, things started about as well as possible for Manchester United. They scored twice in the first half. Unfortunately, one of those goals was for Liverpool. Wes Brown’s own-goal (which was really Van der Sar’s fault), really turned things around as Liverpool dominated play in the latter part of the first half. A lot of concerns for Man Utd. at half time. They’re not keeping possession of the ball as well in midfield, and losing Carrick will hurt them on both sides of the ball. Berbatov has fit in well with Tevez, but Rooney seems like he’s looking to find his way. As for Liverpool, they have plenty to smile about. Plus, they have a couple of big guns on the bench.
45′ + 2 Man Utd. are knocking it around and seem dying for that halftime whistle to go off. Brown with an enticing cross into the box towards Berbatov, but he can’t get it down and Liverpool clear it away. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
45′ Kuyt turns on the edge of the box and fires it on goal. It’s easily handled by Van der Sar, though. Two minutes of added time.
44′ Liverpool are pressuring Van der Sar every time one of his defenders sends it back to him. Why not? Van der Sar’s been uncharacteristically shaky today. Kuyt takes a knock on the head as he goes for a 50-50 ball. Crowd wants a foul, but it looked fair.
43′ Rooney gets a high pass from Berbatov, and he shows off some balletic moves to try and keep control of it. He can’t, though, and turns it over. Carrick gets it back and tries to send it in to Rooney, but Rooney’s off-sides.
42 Reira and Arbeloa try the one-two, but the return is long and it’s out for a goal kick. Meanwhile, Carrick is really limping and Hargreaves is warming up.
41′ Berbatov gets taken out on the edge of the box. Play on, sayeth Howard Webb.
39′ Rooney gives it away and Liverpool are on the attack. Benayoun sends it in and it’s off Carrick and headed to goal. Ferdinand knocks it away from danger, though.
38′ Anderson hits Keane with a a forearm shot, but no call. Rooney with a cross into the box, but Skrtel knocks it away for a corner. Liverpool clear the corner away from danger.
36′ Liverpool on the attack. Benayoun sends it into the box for Kuyt. Ferdinand heads it away. Mascherano with an enticing cross into the box for Reira or Kuyt. Van der Sar hesitates, but luckily for him, neither Reira nor Kuyt were close enough to do any damage.
35′ Carrick took a knock as he went for the ball. He’s trying to walk it off.
34′ Great service into the box for Keane, who has a great chance on goal. Unfortunately, he whiffs on the kick. Rooney is back to clear it away from danger.
32′ Liverpool on the attack. Cross into the box is headed away by Ferdinand.
31′ Alonso fouls Berbatov near the box. Unfortunately, Man Utd.’s best free kickers aren’t in the game. Anderson takes it and it’s knocked out for a throw.
30′ Berbatov and Tevez have some miscommunication. Oh well. They’re just getting acquainted, after all.
29′ Not the prettiest goal, but Liverpool fans will take it. Brown will get the own goal, but it was Van der Sar’s fault. He should have tried to catch it.
28′ Berbatov gets it and sends it out to Anderson. Anderson then finds Tevez open in the box and he has a golden opportunity to score, but his effort goes over the bar.
26′ GOAL! Almost a killer turnover by Liverpool as Anderson intercepts the poor pass from Mascherano. But Anderson can’t control it and Liverpool fans can breathe easy. Then we’re back the other way as Liverpool get a goal as Alonso’s service into the box is deflected off Evra and Van der Sar has to make the save. He mishandles it, and it goes off Brown for an own goal.
24′ Evra takes another knock on the head, but he’s okay. Hopefully, he doesn’t forget who he’s playing for.
23′ Liverpool enjoying a good spell of possession here. As dangerous as Man Utd. have looked on offense, they’ve sacrificed their midfield depth.
22′ Arbeloa’s free kick into the box is headed away by Ferdinand.
21′ Reira with a good throughball to Kuyt, but Vidic is there to stop it. Tevez then gets booked for a rash challenge on Arbeloa.
18′ Evra and Mascherano are down, and we’re taking a break. Both of them look fine.
17′ Aurelio sends a great cross across the box for Keane. He can’t handle it, though, and Man Utd. clear it.
15′ Free kick and it’s out for a corner. Anderson’s corner is cleared by Liverpool, and they break the other way. Scholes is there to stop the attack, though, and we’re going the other way.
14′ Foul by Carragher, and he’s not happy. He’s captain, though, so he can talk to the ref about it.
12′ Corner conceded by Man Utd. Liverpool almost score! Van der Sar fumbles the kick and Benayoun has a chance to put it in. It’s right at Van der Sar, though, and crisis is averted. Reira goes down in the box and tries to draw the penalty. No dice, though.
11 Carrick commits the foul in midfield. Quick free kick and Reira goes down near the box. No foul, though.
10′ Rooney gets around Skrtel and tries to play it into Berbatov. It’s intercepted by Liverpool. Well, they are looking for Berbatov in there.
9′ Rooney sends it to Brown, who sends in a cross from the right to Berbatov. It’s over his head, though, but Liverpool knock it out for a throw.
8′ Liverpool on the attack. Benayoun plays it into the box, but Anderson knocks it away.
6′ Throw into the Man Utd. box causes confusion. It bounces around and goes to Kuyt. Kuyt with a good shot on goal, but it’s wide.
3′ GOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!! Berbatov with a great run down the middle. He gets deep into the box and sends a great pass back to a trailing Tevez. Tevez then beats Reina near post. Wow! Looks like Berbatov is already paying dividends.
2′ Brown tries to send a cross into the box for Tevez. Tevez backheels it to Berbatov, but the Bulgarian hitman mishits it for the turnover. I want my 30 million back!
1′ Man Utd. kick off, and here we go!
0′ Not a fan of the white kits for Man Utd.
0′ For some reason, I’m getting the Spanish feed. Oh well. Looks like I’ll be hearing “GOOOOOAAAAAL!!!”
0′ Hello all! Welcome to another edition of the Northwest Derby! It should be a good one. At least, I hope I will be. Then again, anything’s better than Liverpool’s scoreless draw with Aston Villa from a couple weeks ago.
Liverpool deservedly snap Manchester United’s Northwest Derby winning streak. Man Utd. looked great in the opening minutes as it looked like they were going to run away with this match. An own goal and a Giggs mistake later, and it’s Liverpool that take the three points.
Liverpool dominated possession for much of the game as Man Utd. are going to have to figure out how to handle their midfield situation now that Berbatov is part of the picture. They took advantage of some questionable defending, as well as some uncharacteristically shaky goalkeeping from Van der Sar. Indeed, if it weren’t for Ferdinand’s stout defending, Man Utd. would have probably lost by 2 or 3 goals. It’s early, but Man Utd. have some questions to answer. They have yet to look dominant in the league, and they have now lost two matches in a row (counting the Super Cup). Now they face a must-win next week against Chelsea in a stadium where they haven’t had much success in as of late.
As for Liverpool, they showed tremendous poise, especially after Tevez scored early in the match. Alonso was a steady hand in midfield and made everyone wonder why Benitez was so keen to get rid of him over the summer. Kuyt and Keane worked well together, constantly putting pressure on the Man Utd. defense. Reira made a strong debut, and Arbeloa and Aurelio played well on both sides of the ball. These are the kinds of matches you have to win if you want to win the league, and Liverpool certainly answered the call today.
Man of the Match
It’s hard to choose one player since it really was a team effort by Liverpool. Still, I’d go with Alonso. He played a great match in midfield, combining with Mascherano to control the action and keep Man Utd. from getting into any kind of rhythm. His cross produced the first Liverpool goal, as Van der Sar inexplicably decided to palm it away instead of catch it. His service on crosses wasn’t the greatest, but he did well when called on to join the attack. I’ve always thought that Alonso was underrated, and with performances like this one, you wonder why Benitez doesn’t think more highly of him.