Clash of the titans
"You'll never walk alone" sang the Liverpool fans at 1:30 today as a titanic fixture loomed just minutes away. The Liverpool players walked out on to the pitch with pride and purpose lead by captain Steven Gerrard while the Manchester United players stepped gingerly onto the pitch knowing that a win would be pivitol to their lead at the top of the league. A slightly respectful line-up put out by Sir Alex gave us a preview as to what was to come. The game of the year would have cost a fortune and expectations where high when the teams kicked off. The game promised controversial decisions, tackles and goals galore, exactly what we got.
A roar of expectation and encouragment from each set of fans set the game off to an explosive start with Luis Suarez almost breaking the deadlock with a shot inside the box, unfortunatly for him, Edwin Van Der Sar was well postioned. Pundits and commentators predicted a lame and tamed game consistant of defensive line-ups and few chances and far between each one. How wrong they were... It took a mere 34 minutes for Dirk Kuyt to tuck away Luis Suarez's pass. Kyrgiakos gave the ball to Suarez who then turned and nutmegged Brazilian Rafael and dragged the ball past the incoming Carrick and finally stand-in defender Wes Brown and then poked the ball through Van Der Sar's legs. The crowd rightly stunned by the grace and unbelievable skill of the striker. Liverpool kept the pressure on the Manchurians and 5 minutes later Nani's failed clearance left Dirk Kuyt an easy header just yards from goal. Moments later Carragher lunged in on Nani and tempers flaired as the Portugal winger was stretchered off the field. Replaced by the young Hernandez, the outcome of Nani's injury was not confirmed until later.
A 2-0 half time lead meant Manchester United had to chase a game, not for the first time in the season too. The words of Sir Alex ringing in their ears, the United players kicked off with a new life in them. A completely new mind-set helped the United players get back in the game, but they still could not brake the Liverpool defence. Sparks flew as the passion of the players was conveyed in the crunching tackles and any players accused of having a lack of commitment were excused. One of these tackles earned a free kick for Liverpool 25 yards from goal and Suarez stepped up. The striker poised to curl the ball of the United wall and into the bottom corner of the net. Van Der Sar reacted well to the shot but Dutch Striker Dirk Kuyt reacted faster and nipped in front of the United keeper and toe poked the ball home for his first hat-trick of the season. Not as spectacular as Dimitar Berbatov's treble against Liverpool earlier in the season at Old Trafford but worth all the same, the striker had given Liverpool a commanding lead. Referee Phil Dowd had a good game not troubled by too many incidents, apart from a collision of the two teams when Rafael took a loose touch and lunged in with two feet on Lucas. Astoundingly, no red cards were bared but the crowd had a different verdict. All of the quality shown in the first half had been forgotten in the second half and the last 30 minutes were less than thrilling. A 90th minute consolation from Hernandez gave one positive for Mike Wheelan to talk about in the Post-match interview. Sir Alex has been charged by the FA for not giving an interview after each match like the agreement that the league and the BBC have as the 'Match of the Day' team show footage of an interview with each manager after the highlights of the match. To save him the humiliation of an interview after an embarrising defeat, Wheelan took the interview for him.
A fantastic result for 'King Kenny' and Liverpool as they have maintain their ambitions of Europe next season. A sensational game for Dirk Kuyt and a match ball to frame gives Dalglish a few selection problems. With Andy Carrol making his debut for the reds and Suarez on hot form, who will Kenny choose to play up-front. Sir Alex will be sweating over the reuslts of Nani's injury as he faces selection problems too, in defence and in attack. Chris Smalling is showing his potential but with Vidic's suspension troubles, who will play in the defence. Even for a club like United, strength in depth is a big thing. Who will replace Nani? Hernandez, the fast and athletic centre forward, Berbatov, the goalscorer or Rooney, the in and out of form star. Will it be one of Sir Alex's squad players, like Gabriel Obertan who was brought in from Bordeux in the summer? The winger has shown promise but has had little first team action. We will have to wait and see...
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As a Liverpool fan, I'm a bit biased so please leave a comment on what you think