Date: 23rd January 2006 at 1:02pm
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MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Evra, Giggs, Fletcher, O’Shea (Saha 45), Richardson, Rooney, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Howard, Vidic, Silvestre, Rossi.

LIVERPOOL: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko (Kromkamp 89), Kewell, Crouch (Morientes 59), Cisse (Sinama Pongolle 75).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Traore.

With Chelsea still miles ahead in the title race … 14 points clear despite their rare setback against Charlton .. we have to make the most of small mercies. And Rio Ferdinand’s injury-time header to halt Liverpool’s unbeaten run is one we can stick in the locker.

Arsenal’s 49-game streak without a defeat ended here last season, and Chelsea’s 40-match run was halted in November, so Liverpool were the latest to sample tears at the Theatre of Dreams.

Ferdinand rose to meet Ryan Giggs’ free-kick and bulleted a header into the top corner past Jose Reina and suddenly Manchester United’s ‘crisis’ didn’t look quite as desperate.

It hardly threw open the Premiership title race but at least it gave the supporters a positive attitude as we continue the FA Cup next week. The competition that is suddenly the gold at the end of the rainbow for this season.

Up to that point, the game appeared likely to be memorable only for Djibril Cisse’s astonishing miss just after the hour mark. Ferdinand had just cleared off the line when Harry Kewell lashed a volley towards goal. Edwin van der Sar did brilliantly to keep it out but could only palm the ball straight into Cisse’s path.
But somehow, despite being barely six yards out and completely unmarked, Cisse thrashed his shot over, to the total disbelief of manager Rafael Benitez.

The defeat, Liverpool’s first since an October loss at Fulham, leaves the Reds trailing United by four points – with two games in hand – in what is surely now a race for second spot.