The honours were shared in a pulsating clash between two of the finest clubs in the country.
Team News – Sir Alex Ferguson extracted a few gasps of surprise form the Manchester United faithful when he decided to stick Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani all on the substitutes bench. Rio Ferdinand, as the morning press suspected, was recalled to the centre of defence whilst it was left to young Danny Welbeck to lead the attack.
For Liverpool, Steven Gerrard, as we`d suggested all week, returned to the starting eleven for the first time this season.
United – De Gea, Evra, Ferdinand, Jones, Evans, Smalling, Giggs, Park, Young, Fletcher, Welbeck
Subs – Lindegaard, Anderson, Carrick, Nani, Valencia, Rooney, Hernandez
Explaining his team selection, Sir Alex had this to say to the media before kick-off,
‘We felt we’ve been far too open recently. Bringing Phil Jones in midfield gives us more security. Wayne Rooney’s had a bad week. He was devastated at the suspension. I just felt he’d be better starting on the bench. Ji-Sung Park’s very fresh. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling missed the internationals, while Chicharito played a full 90 minutes against Brazil and didn’t come back until Thursday.’
First Half – United got the action underway attacking the Kop End but it was to be a first forty-five minutes with very few clear cut chances.
Liverpool edge the first five minutes but without threatening De Gea in the United goal. With ten minutes on the clock, United`s best move of the half so far so Smalling and Park combine to fee Welbeck but his shot was weak and easily saved by Reina.
Liverpool pushed forward and Evra did well to head clear a dangerous Gerrard free kick. Young whipped in a dangerous looking free kick after being fouled by Kelly but Reina dealt with it comfortably, before with sixteen minutes on the clock, United created their first chance of the half.
Evra delivered a great ball into the area but Jones, at the far post, chose to direct a header towards goal instead of back across it, and it hit the side-netting.
Suarez, from forty-five yards out, tried a cheeky chip but it flew wide before De Gea was forced to make a good save from the same player. Adam burst forward and when his shot was deflected it fell to Suarez but, despite beating his marker, his shot was straight at De Gea who stood up well.
Fetcher and Park, on separate occasions, drove forward but both drilled shots wide. As the half approached it`s conclusion De Gea was forced to punch away, in a crowded six-yard box, a free kick from Adam, before an accidental collision between Lucas and Jones left the United player struggling as the half ended.
Half Time – Liverpool 0 United 0
Second Half – The second forty-five minutes were to prove infinitely better than the first. United started well and Young dragged a shot wide before earning a free kick twenty-five yards out. From the free kick Young`s curling shot forced Reina into a save, it was United`s first shot on target of the game.
Syarez won a corner off Smalling and from the resulting free kick Kuyt saw his header strike the arm of Evans, but no penalty kick was given. The game was swinging from end to end and Suarez just failed to reach a free kick driven in by Adam.
De Gea was forced into two saves, the first, low down, keeping out a Suarez effort from outside the area and the second from Gerrard from a very acute angle.
But with sixty-seven minutes gone Liverpool went ahead. Ferdinand was penalised for a trip on Adam and from the free kick, the United wall broke up allowing Gerrard to drive his shot home.
Liverpool 1 United 0 (Gerrard – 68 minutes)
Sir Alex responded by immediately introducing Rooney and Nani for Young and Park. Nani`s first contribution was a shot that went high and wide. Minutes later, Sir Alex made his third change, bringing off Jones and introducing Herandez, it was a move that was to have the desired effect.
Eighty minutes were on the clock when the second of two corners in quick succession was nodded on by Welbeck for Hernandez to head powerfully home, from close range.
Liverpool 1 United 1 (Hernandez – 80 minutes)
Both sides went for the win but it was Liverpool that looked the most likely to achieve it. Downing fired a long range shot wide before De Gea was forced to stretch to turn away a lob from Henderson, from outside the box. As the three minutes of stoppage time ebbed away, Skrtel fired hastily wide and Henderson, with a free header, saw his effort land on the roof of the net.
United had comeback from a goal down and ended that run of three consecutive defeats, in the Premier League, at Anfield.
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