Anfield Memories: Rooney's Winner
We all remember O'Shea's last minute winner at Anfield; most of us can see Gordon Strachan imitating to smoke a cigar; and very few forgot the legendary 3-3 in 1994. But there are some Liverpool v United games which are rarely recalled as they weren't so significant anyway.
On January 15, 2005, United visited Anfield rocked by injury problems but attempting to keep up the pace with Chelsea and Arsenal. Liverpool themselves were underwhelming in Rafa Benitez's first season and fighting a losing battle for fourth place with Everton.
The game itself, as Liverpool v United games so frequently are, was pretty dire. The dippers started the better but Dudek's customary howler - this time he let Rooney's not exactly ferocious effort to sneak in at the near post - gifted us the lead and rocked Liverpool.
Roy Keane should have added another with a brilliant 30-yard thunderbolt that rattled the crossbar. There were not many more chances in the game, to be honest, as United defended uncharacteristically well, even without Rio Ferdinand. What IS memorable about the game is the anticipation of Fernando Morientes' debut.
In hindsight it's a little difficult to believe but the general feeling was that Benitez pulled off a coup by securing the Spanish striker who was indeed one of the best in Europe in his prime. The season before his goals were vital in getting AS Monaco to the Champions League final, knocking out Real Madrid and Chelsea in the process.
But of course we did not know back then what we know now: that it's extremely perilous for a striker to sign for Liverpool as Benitez has a real knack for ruining them, shattering their confidence - with the obvious exception of Fernando Torres. Morientes was the first in the line: he was quiet and disappointing in this game (I must admit I had been somewhat anxious about the prospect of facing him but he proved toothless) and his Anfield career never got going.
Not that we foresaw it that day: we were happy to put another tricky fixture behind, especially as we had to play the last 30 minutes with ten men after Wes Brown was sent off on 64 minutes. But Liverpool proved unable to create a single chance even against 10 men and we fully deserved to win.
Did they accept defeat gracefully, with dignity? We're talking about Liverpool here, chaps! Their official website came up with this after the game:
'In fact, never mind Chelsea and Arsenal, Watford performed better than United at Anfield and still lost.'
Not bitter at all, were they?
Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Pellegrino, Hyypia, Traore, Luis Garcia, Gerrard, Hamann (Biscan 79),Riise (Sinama Pongolle 72), Baros, Morientes (Nunez 75).
United: Carroll, Phil Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Heinze, Fletcher, Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo (O'Shea 67),Rooney (Bellion 90), Saha (Fortune 79).