Late goal leaves Liverpool stunned
Saturday, March 3, 2007
|Liverpool FC||0||1||Manchester United|
|Goalscorers for Liverpool FC||None|
|Goalscorers for Manchester United||O'Shea (91')|
|Bookings (Liverpool FC)||Alonso, Carragher (Yellow (2))|
|Bookings (Manchester United)||Carrick, Neville (Yellow (3)), Scholes (Red (1))|
Manchester United and Liverpool faced off earlier today at Anfield, with Liverpool undefeated at their home field so far this season. United fielded a strong side including Larsson, Ronaldo, and Rooney, and Liverpool matched their lineup with Kuyt, Gerrard and Bellamy taking to the pitch. Speculation said manager Rafa Benitez would rest his star players for the upcoming Barcelona match, but the Spanish manager proved otherwise.
Liverpool came out strong, not giving any ground to league leaders United. Early strikes by Agger and Riise looked promising, but most efforts sailed wide of the net. Christiano Ronaldo had several chances for United, but his shots also were off target. Craig Bellamy was especially threatening for Liverpool, as he continually outplayed defender Nemanja Vidic, and sent several crosses into the middle, none causing any damage to the Red Devils. Ronaldo had a strong run down the right side, but timely defending by Carragher stopped him in his tracks, as well as another chance by Wayned Rooney.
In the second half, Liverpool was again looking dominant, as shots from Gerrard, Bellamy, and Kuyt all flew in, but again no results come of the dominant play. Bellamy then appeared to have gained the lead for the home side, but the goal was deemed offside, as Sissoko took an extra touch before the ball reached the Welshman. Manchester then made an attacking change, putting Saha in place of Larsson, who was playing his last game for United before heading back to Sweeden. Rooney was then forced to be changed after a high foot from Carragher produced a gash in his knee, and the young Englishman was replaced by O'Shea. Riise again challenged Van Der Sar's goal with a long distance shot, but the ball dipped over the crossbar and out of play. Saha had an appeal for a penalty after a challenge by Agger left him on the ground, but the referee gave no call. As Liverpool left the zone, Paul Scholes appeared to take a swipe at the head of Xavi Alonso with his fist, and was subsenquently red carded, leaving United with 10 men. Liverpool continued to attack, and Peter Crouch had plenty of room to strike in a half volley from 8 yards, but Edwin Van Der Sar produced a fingertip save to keep the game tied. As the game entered stoppage time, Ryan Giggs earned a free kick on the edge of the Liverpool penalty box, and Christiano Ronaldo lined up for the kick. Jose Reina was not able to hold onto Ronaldo's powerful kick, and the ball popped out to John O'Shea, who slammed the ball into the top of the net, giving 10 man United the lead. Liverpool tried in vain to tie the match, as Ronaldo wasted time with his tricks and turns. When the 4 minutes of stoppage time were up, the game continued, and Liverpool earned a corner. Brazilian Aurelio took the corner, but it was poor and as Rio Ferdinand cleared the ball, Martin Atkinson blew the whistle to condemn Liverpool to their first home defeat in the Premier League this season.
The game leaves Manchester United 12 points ahead of 2nd place Chelsea, who have 2 games in hand and play later today against Portsmouth. Liverpool on the other hand will regroup for the second leg of their Champions League match against Barcelona.
- Alex Dunn. "Last Gasp United Steal Spoils" — , March 3, 2007