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Sunday, 9 January 2011
MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
This rollercoaster of a season goes on with another twist in the last day or so. First Hodgson leaves Liverpool by "mutual consent" then Kenny Dalglish is appointed manager until the end of the season. What a turnaround on the eve of a massive FA Cup tie away to Manchester United. After Wednesday's sorry loss to Blackburn I had the feeling this news of the return of Dalglish would lift the whole club, and I was expecting a huge reaction from the players after their poor show on Wednesday night. Never an easy place to go to and with Liverpool's away form being so poor it was going to be a massive ask for Dalglish to get a result here.
I didn't really know what to expect from Dalglish's team selection, but I was quite pleased with it. Good to see young Kelly starting, although I think it was only because Johnson's wife was in labour. Great that Agger and Aurelio starting in defence with Meireles and Lucas in the middle with Gerrard higher up the field supporting Torres. Maxi and Kuyt the wide men. But overall a good team selection.
As expected a full house for this match with an electric atmosphere generated mostly by 9000 Liverpool supporters that were eager to see the return of "King Kenny". But Dalglish couldn't have anticipated a worse start when Berbatov latched on to a long ball down the right and cut into the box, Agger who was in close attendance made a slight effort of a tackle only to see Berbatov go past him then decide to hit the deck. Referee Howard Webb who was about 30 yards away and with no way of a clear view of the incident had no hesitation in giving a penalty much to the frustration of the Liverpool players, especially when the linesman signalled for a corner. Giggs took the penalty emphatically placing the ball in the left hand corner of Reina's net. It was the worst possible start for Liverpool with confidence fragile. But instead of buckling Liverpool responded, Torres miscued a shot from the edge of the box and Maxi had a shot as Liverpool came into the game. Martin Kelly made a great forward run then fizzed a low cross right across the face of goal but it was well cleared by a defender. But as Liverpool looked threatening with Gerrard pulling the strings, disaster struck, Gerrard jumped in seemingly with two feet to win the ball in a challenge with Carrick and referee Webb judged the challenge to be a straight red card and leave liverpool with a monumental task. Man United almost doubled their lead right on half time when Johnny Evans headed against Reina's right hand post. As the second half started Man United pressed for a second goal as Hernandez flashed a header just wide of Reina's goal. United passed the ball and made Liverpool chase the ball with their extra man, but Liverpool tried to push forward as they showed great courage backed by their tremendous supporters who never stopped singing. Torres smashed a volley against a defender after a clever knockdown by Kuyt. Dalglish changed things by bringing on Babel and Shelvey for Maxi and Meireles. Babel made an instant impact with a good run and long range shot which was saved by Kuszczak. Aurelio had a good effort from a free kick on the edge of the United penalty box but Kuszczak saved well. Liverpool survived an amazing sequence of United attacks on 68 minutes when Reina made five saves in the same attack to keep Liverpool in the game. United ran the clock down in the remainder of the game to go through 1-0 but Liverpool can take a lot of positives from this performance.
Not the result we all hoped for but in my view with terrible start Liverpool had I thought it ended up being a very good performance, with so many positives from a defeat. The start couldn't have been any worse and losing our captain later made it virtually mission impossible but the team stood up and showed heart and character that has been lacking in too many games this season. The defence played really well and Martin Kelly was superb in such a big game he defended superbly and got forward with good effect. I thought the whole team gave everything for Kenny. I'm afraid I have to mention the two major decisions in the game, first the penalty, when I first saw it I thought oh no penalty, but when I saw the replay I thought very soft but the thing that enraged me was that there was no way Webb got a good view of the incident and his linesman had a better view who pointed for a corner, but I just feel like most Liverpool fans that he does favour Man Unitred. My take on Gerrard's sending off was one of outrage, when I first saw Gerrard's challenge I thought strong challenge but he's won the ball, when I saw the replay I thought he's jumped in a bit but still won the ball but maybe could be a booking at worst, but when I saw Webb pull out a red card, well I can't repeat what I said as my wife had to keep my youngest child out of our living room for fear of him learning some new words. I just don't think Webb should be allowed to referee this fixture as he always wants to be star attraction and be contoversial. All in all I was proud of the performance they way the team showed heart and passion and I loved seeing Dalglish back in the dugout. I think we can go on with great encouragement from this defeat.
Man Of The Match - Martin Kelly had a superb game at right back some great interceptions and made some good runs forward too, has made a big stake for a regular game with this performance.