Date: 22nd October 2006 at 10:40pm
Written by:

I’m a bit late with this report – sorry, folks, I had some technical difficulties here. Fortunately, United had a really good day in the office so you may be in the mood to forgive me!

Without Cristiano Ronaldo and in front of a record crowd United beat struggling Liverpool comprehensively. The boys in red dominated the game throughout while those in yellow shirts (these away kits, really…) rarely troubled Edwin van der Sar.

However, I must admit I was a bit nervous in the first half. The visitors had a pretty lively start and Riise even attempted to lob the ball over our Dutchman from his own half – unsuccesfully, as he failed to hit the target. But United took control very soon and could have taken the lead when Fletcher beat Riise then Reina to a loose ball but his low cross did not find Wayne Rooney – Liverpool fans must have been relieved. The Spanish keeper then restored some of his pride: he managed to turn away Saha’s effort from the edge of the box after a Giggs corner. The Frenchman did not give up, but next time he went for real power;his powerful attempt failed to beat Reina.

alf an hour gone and Rooney missed a glorious opportunity to give United the lead when he failed to control Carrick’s fine ball over the top.

The visitors were still in the game at that time and Gonzalez fired wide from a good position before United finally got the goal that you could see was coming. Rooney played in Giggs on the left whose low cross found Scholes. The sprightly red-haired midfielder’s first attempt hit Reina but the ball deflected towards goal and Scholesy poked it into the net. Saha could have increased the lead but Reina tipped the ball round the post after his 20-yard effort. Alonso shot over the bar at the end but Liverpool could feel themselves lucky to be just one goal down at the interval.

The second half was just as we expected. United rarely conceded possession while Liverpool struggled to find their rhytm. The visitors had some shooting opportunities but with Steven Gerrard’s poorest game of the season so far they never really threatened Van der Sar. They never seemed likely to equalise and it was no surprise when United hit the back of the net again. It looks as everyone is capable to score this season and now Rio Ferdinand got his name on the scoresheet – he’ll certainly regard Liverpool as his favourite opponents now! Giggs’ cross from the left was headed up into the air by Carragher and the ball fell invitingly to Ferdinand at the edge of the box. He controlled it, then unleashed a ferocius shot into the far corner – I think the word is magnifique!

The visitors looked shattered and the lively Giggs could have added a third but he failed to find an opening after a dazzling solo. Gerrard headed over the bar and substitute Peter Crouch could have been sent off for a needless challenge on Van der Sar as Liverpool players started to look increasingly frustrated. It was not their afternoon and United’s victory was never in danger after the first goal. Fergie and co. are back at the Premiership summit while Liverpool’s title hopes are fading fast – can life be any better?

Player Ratings

Van der Sar 6
I might have mentioned he did not have much work to do…

Gary Neville 6
Kept Gonzalez quiet, he was his usual assured self.

Ferdinand 7
Kuyt and Garcia had no space due to our centre-backs’impressive performance and Rio even scored a beautiful goal.

Vidic 6
Did a good job, we seem to have a settled partnership in defence, finally.

Evra 7
Solid at the back, useful with the attacks – the French full-back impressed me again.

Fletcher 7
The way he beat Reina in the 10th minute was entirely tipical. He was as energetic and tireless as ever.

Carrick 6
A solid performance with some good tackles and fine passing.

Scholes 8
What could we do without him?

Giggs 7
Played a part in both of our goals and seemed to enjoy his football.

Rooney 6
He always wanted the ball but he was denied space throughout the game.

Saha 7
His duels with Reina brought him no success but he was always a handful.

O’Shea 6
No impact.

You Need To Score, Rafa
Ferguson – A Contented Man
‘Well we’re pleased, after losing the game to Arsenal, you can’t afford to lose a big one again so the players responded to that,’ Ferguson told Sky Sports.

‘I thought the performance was excellent.’

Fergie praised Paul Scholes who played his 500th game for United but admitted he did not dare to predict Scholes was going to score – even though it’s fitting he celebrated this landmark with a goal against Liverpool.

‘I thought about that before the game but you don’t want to tempt things but I was so pleased for him, he deserves it,’ he said.

‘His 500th game for the club and he scores against our biggest rivals, so it was a really great moment.’

It Was Just Another Game
‘It was quite special, playing for Manchester United is a big thing,’ Scholes told Sky.

‘I’m still enjoying it as much as ever, probably more than I have done.

‘The last few games I’ve gone well and managed to get forward, get some chances and it’s a good feeling.

‘It’s just another game we needed to win to stay at the top of the table.

‘People have milestones all the time and we were just concentrating on winning the game and that’s what we managed to do.’

You Need To Score, Rafa
In the first half we didn’t have a lot of problems and then we conceded a goal. Against a good team like United that is always a big problem,’ Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez told Sky Sports.

‘When you see the players working as hard as they work, you cannot blame them, if you make a mistake, you make a mistake.

‘From my point of view it is a pity when you concede.’

The Spanish boss then stated the blatantly obvious – though his team sometimes seem to forget a basic truth – scoring is vital in football.

‘We were defending well but we couldn’t create a lot of clear chances, if you want to win you need to score,’