Jan 9, 2011


United are through to the FA Cup fourth round as a Ryan Giggs penalty after just two minutes ensured victory in an action-packed, end-to-end encounter with ten-man Liverpool.

Giggs’ penalty quelled Liverpool’s early optimism, while their own captain Steven Gerrard all but extinguished it with a reckless challenge that rightly earned him a red card after 32 minutes.

Liverpool – remarkably given their form and the turmoil on and off the pitch that has engulfed their season – arrived at Old Trafford on a wave of optimism. Roy Hodgson’s sacking, and Kenny Dalglish subsequently stepping in the day before this game, ensured the 9,000 visiting fans had plenty to sing about before the match. It was undoubtedly timed for maximum effect.

United, on the other hand, have started 2011 on a high, top of the league and hopeful of what the year might bring – not least the prospect of a 19th league title. But while Sir Alex Ferguson was keen to avoid the shock of last season’s FA Cup third round exit at the hands of local rivals Leeds, he had to contend with a cluster of first-choice absentees. Edwin van der Sar was still missing after suffering with a virus, while Wayne Rooney’s ankle problem meant he was not risked either. Worse still, Nemanja Vidic was reportedly a late drop-out – United’s influential skipper replaced by Jonny Evans.

Dalglish entered the arena like an excited child expectant of what the next 90 minutes might hold, but Liverpool’s giddy optimism dissipated after barely 90 seconds when United went ahead. Darren Fletcher’s lofted pass picked out Dimitar Berbatov’s run into the right channel. The Bulgarian plucked the ball expertly out of the air and turned past Daniel Agger, who stuck his leg out and though there was minimal contact, Howard Webb deemed it enough to point to the spot. Ryan Giggs stepped up fire the ball past Jose Reina and Old Trafford shook as Reds from Manchester leapt up in delirious celebration.

Liverpool came back into the contest with a spell midway through the half; Maxi Rodriguez stung Tomasz Kuszczak’s palms with a fierce drive, while Rio Ferdinand was well-positioned to stop Martin Kelly’s cross reaching Fernando Torres at the far post.

Despite the lead and a fair share of the pressure, United had created little in front of goal by the time the next twist in the tale arrived. This fixture so often contains red cards, undoubtedly due to its emotive nature. However, over-commitment is no excuse for the horrendous two-footed tackle Steven Gerrard put in on Michael Carrick. He was rightly given his marching orders by Webb, again after careful consideration. Critics might point to an earlier challenge from Rafael, but although feet left the floor, the Brazilian full-back was never out of control and, crucially, he won the ball.

Fans inside Old Trafford gleefully pointed at a dumbstruck Dalglish in the away dug-out and wittily sang, ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’. Nani had a half-chance to score United’s second, with a run into the Liverpool area and a toe-poked shot that Reina saved comfortably. But it was Jonny Evans – still without a goal in his Reds career – who went closest to doubling the lead when his towering header from a corner slammed off the post.

United’s numerical advantage hadn’t fully shown towards the end of the first half, but it began to after the break as United pressed forward. The irrepressible Berbatov continued to cause havoc in Liverpool’s defence. His class shone through and he kick-started the Reds’ first real chance of the half three minutes in. He beautifully controlled the ball and slipped a pass out to Fletcher on the right, and the Scotsman’s inviting crossing was headed inches wide by Berbatov’s enthusiastic striker part Chicharito.
Moments later Patrice Evra had a legitimate shout for a penalty turned down, and while this pointed to United’s dominance in the tie, the fragility of a 1-0 scoreline in a cup tie – even with the opposition a man down. The away support sensed it, and with substitutes Ryan Babel and Jonjo Shelvey providing fresh legs, United still had work to do.

As a counter move, Sir Alex replaced Fletcher with Anderson but the Brazilian instantly earned a yellow card for a foul on Torres on the edge of the area, and Fabio Aurelio forced Kuszczak into an outstanding savefrom the resulting free-kick . United desperately needed to respond, and did so with a flurry of corners and goal-mouth action. Berbatov saw a close range effort turned wide by Reina, while Rafael and two shots blocked as the game took on a genuine cup tie feel. Although United were protecting a lead, the fans were swept along with the excitement, shouting, ‘attack, attack, attack’. This, it would seem, was no time for conservatism.

It was time, however, for the introduction of Michael Owen, and the reactions of both sets of supporters showed in an instant the divide that exists between the two clubs. Greater still, though, is the gulf in value between victory and defeat – and as the final whistle blew it was United celebrating victory and marching on in search of success in 2011, while Liverpool are left to consider yet another fallow year.

United: Kuszczak; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans (Smalling 84), Evra; Nani, Fletcher (Anderson 63), Carrick, Giggs; Berbatov, Hernandez (Owen 75).
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Fabio, Gibson, Obertan.

Liverpool: Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio; Meireles (Shelvey 61), Lucas; Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi (Babel 61); Torres (Ngog 77).
Subs not used: Gulasci, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Ngog, Poulsen.

Man Utd Official Website


Aizuddin Hanis said...

glory glory man united...xsabar nk tgk game ni mlam ni

Buaya-Merah said...

salam ziarah

selamat dtg ke blog sy dan menjadi follwoer sekali k


manna_salwa said...

bile ajl vs football match..

still tahniah MU.


10 player pun mng ek..

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