By Lee Savery
Manchester United completed the league double over Liverpool thanks to goals from Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic.
The home side lined up with Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in defence which has been a rarity in recent months. Danny Welbeck started up front ahead of Javier Hernandez with Shinji Kagawa starting on the left wing.
The Red Devils took the lead after 19 minutes after a well worked move involving; Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa & Danny Welbeck. The ball was crossed in from the left-hand side which was met with a well-placed finish by van Persie. He keeps scoring in the big games and this was his 21st goal of the season.
It kicked United into life after a tense start and they dominated the whole first half with Liverpool not recording a single attempt at goal. Welbeck had two chances to score but one was blocked and the other was blasted over the bar. Tom Cleverley would go close with a left-footed shot from the edge of the area that was only inches from finding the net.
The best chance came just before half-time when Rafael got away from Glen Johnson in the box before finding van Persie who back heeled the ball towards goal but it was cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel. In the scramble for the rebound, Kagawa was pushed into Pepe Reina by Andre Wisdom. Arguably, it should have been a penalty.
Nine minutes into the second half and United doubled their lead. A free-kick from the left, taken by van Persie, was whipped into the unmarked Patrice Evra whose header deflected off Vidic and beat Reina. Whoever claims the goal between the two would ultimately score the winning goal and I would give it to Vidic. There is a possibility that Vidic might have been offside.
Three minutes later and Liverpool finally came into the game with goal from their new signing, Daniel Sturridge, on his first league appearance. Steven Gerrard dispossessed Michael Carrick before seeing his shot from the edge of the area saved by David de Gea. However, Sturridge was first to react to the loose ball for a tap in.
The game turned on this goal and with two up front for Liverpool, they began to push and stretch the United back line. However de Gea did not have much to do with Sturridge skying the best chance for an equaliser. Reina did, however, have more to do as he had to stretch to save Kagawa’s attempt at goal from just outside the box. In stoppage time, he also saved from van Persie’s cheeky flick at goal.
United had to hang from late Liverpool pressure but they did to secure another 2-1. United were excellent in the first half and probably should have scored more although their more disciplined second half performance was more in reaction to Liverpool’s changing of tactics from one up front to two.
Any win over Liverpool is important to a Manchester United fan and this will be no different. Sir Alex Ferguson had talked about winning ugly and certainly in the second half, United had to win ugly to take all three points.
Man of the Match Poll & Player Ratings: Manchester United vs. Liverpool HERE.
Share your thoughts with the Stretford End Arising forum HERE.