Benitez's Single Point
It couldn't have been sweeter than this. Yet another 1-0 win over Liverpool, with the second half spent with watching them pumping the ball upfields without a hint of a goal threat. Amazing.
It was all predictable really. Fergie knows he needs no subtlety to take the spoils from Anfield: set out to defend and score a goal somehow. That is always enough here as we have demonstrated time and time again. Yesterday Rio and Vida once again showed why they are the best defensive partnership in the world, Evra reassured his claim to be the world's best left-back and Anderson have underlined his credentials as the brightest talent in the Premiership.
Having said that, the dippers could have taken the lead due to uncharacteristic clangers from Van der Sar. Two harmless balls into the box were completely missed by the Dutchman but first Anderson then Evra cleared off the line. However, Gillet and Hicks, knowing little about football, will take note that despite Benitez's usual blabbering that 'we had chances', Liverpool actually threatened only due to two gifts from Edwin. And at one of these instances he was fouled.
Then of course came the winning goal. For all our possession and good midfield play we created nothing that has to be said but waiting for the opportunity and then seizing it always works at Anfield and this time was no different. It would have been the greatest corner combination of all time had Rooney's pass been intentional. I'm sure it wasn't, only a bad shot but I still went mad with me mates when Tevez turned it in, from more or less the same place where O'Shea won the game last season. His first ever away goal for United: could it have come at a better place?
The second half was desperately, utterly predictable. The highlight of it was Fernando Torres making a fool of himself early in the second half. The Spanish striker risked a glance out of Rio's pocket where he spent the whole game about every ten minutes or so and at one of these rare occasions he was again muscled off the ball with embarassing ease and, for reasons known only by himself, he set off in pursuit of Rio, who gave him a pat on the cheek and pushed him off as he would have done with an over-enthusiastic schoolboy. Brilliant!
Otherwise, United conceded the majority of space and possession but in turn took the life out of the game. Liverpool resorted to punting long ball upfields which the anonymous Kuyt and the poor Torres tried to chase down. The wingers, Kewell and Benayoun hit in a number of awful crosses and only Babel's introduction offered any kind of threat from Liverpool but their only dangerous chance came when Brown headed the ball in said winger's path and he fired wide from a good position. Otherwise they were in the defense's pocket, Hargreaves and Anderson excelling while Rio and Vidic surpassing themselves again.
United were far from their usual fluency in attack but should have scored two. First, Rooney's cross found Brown on the right of the penalty area but his shot lacked power as he did not hit it properly so it was easy for Reina.
The biggest chance of the game was Rooney's and I was terrified that we might regret not finishing them off. Evra took the ball of Benayoun on the edge of our box, set out on a great run then hit an expert pass towards Ronaldo who beat Hyypia and sent a perfect low cross to Rooney who, unmarked and six yards out, failed to hit the back of the net and sent the ball wide. It would have been the coup de grace but this way we managed to maximize the suffering of the Anfield faithful... who turned out to be not so faithful, leaving early despite their team's efforts to conjure a goal out of nothing.
So, seven league games against each other, six wins for Fergie and one 0-0 draw. Does any of us want Rafa to be fired?