Manchester United inches towards European glory as Gerrard sees red !
Juan Mata hits a brace ; Gerrard sent-off ; Rooney penalty miss ! A fierce derby outclassed by clash of feet and physique as well.
The last time Liverpool suffered a defeat was at Old Trafford ; same derby fixture. It’s been weeks now since that defeat and lately Liverpool are in track of a brilliant form . Especially recent triumphs over Manchester City and Southampton proved them to be on course to reserve a Champions League spot.
Manchester United was 10 points behind The Reds back then during their win and now they begin the reverse fixture by 2 points ahead. Van Gaal had displayed quite a convincing run despite a bad start to his United campaign. Stats reveal the Manchester side has recorded the most number of away wins at Anfield than any other team.
STARTING LINE-UP :
MANCHESTER UNITED : United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Young, Rooney.
LIVERPOOL :Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Sterling, Henderson, Allen, Moreno, Lallana, Coutinho, Sturridge.
12 minutes into the encounter and Herrera’s diagonal pass sneaked through 3 defenders to reach Juan Mata and the Spaniard proved himself the better man to Mignolet with a goal. Mata’s goal marked his first ever goal in Premier League since ever he had scored against the same Merseyside counter-part back in December. Thus the reverse fixture’s score sheet was pre-occupied with the former goal scorer.
Minutes later Allen was the first Red to get penalized for a tackle over Herrera. Liverpool weren’t much lethal in attack and United defence provided no room for the opponents to outclass them. Valencia and Smalling displayed good work with feet and physique as well.
Home side’s very convincing chance was created by Sturridge after half an hour mark right inside the left space of penalty zone , when he passed it past two defenders which went onto reach Lallana’s feet . But unfortunately the striker shot it off beyond the right bar and missed a precious equalizer. Had it been on-target , it might be the equalizer as De Gea was of no means to dive for it.
Liverpool survived a scare in the dying minutes of the half when Michael Carrick’s long range effort blasted high in the air but later to get it stopped by Mignolet’s gloves. Players returned back down into tunnel at half-time with the score line of 1-0 to Manchester United. A well deserved lead as they capitalized the half and were the far better team in creating convincing chances.
Second half was underway at Anfield following a halftime change with Steven Gerrard coming in and Lallana leaving the pitch. But just 45 seconds into the half and Gerrard experienced a horror noon ; surely one to forget. His intentional stamp over Herrera enabled the referee Atkinson to declare marching orders to the former England captain . Frustrated English man left the field in agony. Later Herrera was booked as well for his gesture towards the sent-off player.
Anfield remained stunned and silent due to this tragedy of reducing themselves down to 10 men. Minutes later Coutinho , the star in spotlight amidst the sunlight , chosen as football legend Pele’s man to watch , sent in a powerful shot just inches higher off the post. Chants and boos came into existence after Jones had a cheap challenge over Henderson and Merseyside supporters cried for a favourable red card. Nevertheless , he was warned with a yellow.
Clock ticked around 59 minutes when Di Maria and Mata produced a one-two pass . Having the first touch , Mata lurked in towards the penalty area when Di Maria responded him a lob pass . The Spaniard once again proved himself the better man to the goal stopper , with an acrobatic effort to hit right into the right edge of the net . The Spaniard completed a brace for himself and extended the lead as well.
United were on the driving seat when still Rooney missed a 3rd goal from Di Maria’s cross. But with 20 minutes less than the final whistle, game and home crowd plunged back into action when Coutinho’s rapid ball cut 3 defenders and Sturridge managed to score past De Gea through a few inches gap between his gloves and the left bar. The trailing goal reinstated the required belief to overturn the dismay; at least a draw in such a pathetic situation.
Two out-of-form and lately transferred strikers Radamel Falcao and Mario Balotelli were brought in; but were of not worth enough. Into the stoppage minutes , when Wayne Rooney was handed a penalty after Blind goes down for a silly challenge. But Liverpool held on to one last breath when Mignolet astonished masses by blocking the shot from the spot.
Match ended in dramatic rival fashion when De Gea confronted Skrtel for the home-side man’s poor stamp over the keeper. He deserves a red card for sure and any post-match suspension is of no surprise.
Manchester United moved 5 points clear of Liverpool onto fourth spot with 5 points short of first place. The Manchester side are patently inching towards regaining its Champions League spot.