United Gave Away The Three Points, Gift-Wrapped
I've seen lots of Liverpool v United games but I can think of only two which rivals this in terms of being infuriating. First would be their sickening comeback from 0-3 in 1994, the other was when David Elleray salvaged a draw for them in 1999.
But it all started well. Weather was fine, Gerrard and Torres were on the bench, our starting line-up looked solid and included Berbatov. And it got better: within 3 minutes, the Bulgarian latched onto Scholes' through ball, took it to the byline then cut back for Tevez who hammered home from just inside the box.
It looked set to be another happy Anfield afternoon. We were the better team, looked more dangerous and defended solidly. It looked like we could actually increase our lead when disaster struck.
It felt like being at Stamford Bridge as usually Chelsea are who score these type of goals. The ball deflected off Evra towards goal but Van der Sar was comfortably first to the it and he should have got it easily - instead he opted to punch it too early, the ball hit Brown and rolled into the empty net. You may notice that I did not mention the name of a single Liverpool player while describing their equaliser - well, no surprise as they really had nothing to do with it.
Now, we are the English and European champions, I thought. This temporary setback should be no problem really, we're capable of scoring again. And I was almost proved right immediately as Tevez missed a great chance to put us back in front.
However, the worrying signs began to accumulate. Liverpool tackled, harassed, hassled and were generally inconvenient. Benayoun kicked Carrick off the park and Scholes was simply off the pace, such a frantic game is not for his old legs anymore. Still, we made it till the break without major problems.
Carrick had to be brought off and we assumed that either Hargreaves or Fletcher would come in to replace him. Instead Fergie opted for another veteran whose legs are no longer capable of that extra mile: Ryan Giggs. In such a game it was suicide.
Liverpool's physical superiority became absolutely crystal clear and though their footballing skills are mediocre at best they just bombed forward, sent crosses in constantly and hoped that we would commit a mistake. Not very sophisticated, this approach and they did not have a really fine attack until the 92nd minute but it was enough to cause us serious problems. Which is an obvious concern as teams with limited skill but endless stamina should not unsettle us so easily...
Still, Giggs, despite being almost invisible, was inches away of scoring and as Liverpool had no real chances we looked set for a draw which wasn't very good but still acceptable. However, the wearers of the white shirt decided that they should not escape with a point.
Mascherano's dribble on the right was brilliant, one of the rare moments of pure skill from a Liverpool player. But Giggs got the ball and had it covered. Losing it there, in that position - astonishing and incredible. Seasoned veterans should really know better. And that's how we gave away another goal, another one where we should have easily cleared the ball.
The rest of the game was pure horror. It was obvious that we had neither the mental nor the physical strength - another worrying sign - to scrape an equaliser though Rooney could have done it but totally mishit his shot. Summed up his afternoon really. And as for Berbatov... started well then the total disintegration of our midfield resulted in the isolation of our strikers, Tevez and Berbatov.
Liverpool deserved to win, simply because they kept bombing forward and because it would be the Premier League's embarassment if we had got away with the mistakes we had made. This way it's only our own embarassment.
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