United crashed to a second successive Premier League defeat, at Anfield, this afternoon courtesy of a Dirk Kuyt hat-trick
For the fixture, United were without Vidic (suspended), Ferdinand (injured) and Evans (Injured) thereby forcing Sir Alex to play Wes Brown alongside Chris Smalling at the heart of the defence. In midfield Ryan Giggs beat Bobby Charlton`s record number of League appearances whilst Darren Fletcher was left on the bench.
With the action underway Liverpool almost took an early lead when Suarez and Meireles combined but Suarez couldn`t get to the return ball. United looked a little sluggish and Maxi, Suarez and Meireles were taking advantage of the situation, spraying the ball around. One move finished with Maxi shooting wide from the right side of the box.
Nani tried to relieve the early pressure but only succeeded in running the ball out of play. Suarez, continuing his lively start, tried a dipping shot from long range but it was never troubling Van der Sar.
Slowly United were getting into the game and a spell whereby they had the majority of possession saw Berbatov shoot straight at Reina. United almost got a breakthrough when Berbatov exchanged passes with Rooney before the post deprived him of a goal after a decent strike with Reina nowhere near making a save.
Liverpool responded with a Suarez cross that Meireles headed back only for Kuyt not to get a touch. Aurelio limped off to be replaced by Kyrgiakos before Brown saw a header, from a corner, hit Skrtel before being cleared.
Tempers got a bit frayed when Suarez and Evra clashed, but Phil Dowd did well to calm the situation down without issuing any cards. Scholes fouled Lucas just outside the area and Gerrard saw his shot deflected for a corner which came to nothing.
With thirty-four minute son the clock Liverpool took the lead with a goal made by Suarez. The striker, signed in January, left three United defenders trailing in his wake before putting the ball through Van der Sar`s legs for Kuyt to poke home from a yard or so out.
Liverpool 1 United 0 (Kuyt – 34 minutes)
The goal stunned United and Van der Sar did well to rush out to thwart Maxi. But with thirty-nine minutes played we found ourselves 2-0 down when United contrived to present Kuyt with a second goal. The culprit was Nani who headed over the head of Carrick only for Kuyt to head past Van der Sar from six yards out.
Liverpool 2 United 0 (Kuyt – 39 minutes)
As half time approached Liverpool should have been down to ten men when Carragher made a crude challenge on Nani. With the Portuguese winger writhing in agony Van der Sar felt so enraged he ran fully seventy yards to get involved, only to receive a yellow card for his exertions.
Nani left the field of play on a stretcher, to be replaced by Hernandez, and before half time there was another altercation when Rafael went in hard on Skrtel and both received yellow cards.
Half Time – Liverpool 2 United 0
The second half started in fine fashion with both sides carving out chances. First Van der Sar did well to cut out a Suarez cross destined for Meireles before Hernandez put a Berbatov cross wide, although he was at full stretch.
At 2-0 down, United had started the second half well but without creating a clear-cut chance; although Ryan Giggs went close with a volley that flew just over the bar. The spell of pressure saw Reina flick away a Hernandez header before anther header, this time from Berbatov, was chested off the line by Meireles. Giggs then saw a twenty yard free kick clear the bar, as United struggled to get back into the game.
Van der Sar was then forced to push away a shot from Meireles before Liverpool got a third goal and put the game to bed, once again it was that man Kuyt. Brown fouled Kuyt and when Van der Sar fumbled Suarez`s shot the Dutchman was the quickest to react to stab the ball home.
Liverpool 3 United 0 (Kuyt – 65 minutes)
With just over a quarter of an hour left United were looking for a miracle. Carroll, on as a substitute forced a save from Van der Sar. United forced a free kick but Rooney slammed his shot straight into the wall. Kuyt almost had a fourth but his volley went high and wide.
Suarez then danced, again, through the United defence but couldn`t get his shot off before Gerrard saw a free kick go inches wide of Van der Sar`s post. But there was still time left for United to get a consolation goal when Hernandez glanced a Giggs cross into the corner but it was too little too late as the red half of Merseyside celebrated the final whistle.
Liverpool 3 United 1 (Hernandez – 90+2 minutes)
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