By jpa90, 13-01-2013, 16:43:14
Goals from Robin Van Persie and Patrice Evra ensured that Manchester United took all three points against Liverpool at Old Trafford, despite a late attempt at a comeback from the visitors. Daniel Sturridge pulled one back for the Reds but two goals either side of the half were enough for United to claim their second 2-1 win against Liverpool this season.
|Exchanging possession in the early stages, both teams were keen to take control of the game. United pushed Liverpool’s defence leaving little time on the ball and no room for mistakes. The visitors were having their fair share of possession in attack but were unable to break through the solid presence of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Neither side had a clear-cut chance in the first 15 minutes but United’s neat and tidy passing was about to pay off. Danny Welbeck played a short pass to Tom Cleverly on the edge of Liverpool’s box, who released quickly it to Patrice Evra on the left wing. Nobody had followed Evra and he was able to place a low and powerful ball across the area, finding Van Persie. Daniel Agger’s challenge was far too late and the striker only needed to one touch to guide it past Reina and into the net to make it 1-0 to the home side.
Liverpool had been punished for a nervy start and were struggling to handle United’s off the ball movement up front. When the Reds were able to move the ball up, it was often lost via a careless pass or an over-hit cross. The visitor’s unsteady control was demonstrated when Joe Allen played a pass straight into the path of Welbeck. The striker’s shot was blocked by a last-ditch lunge from Agger but United were pouncing on Liverpool’s complete lack of composure.
Welbeck came close again when he snuck behind Liverpool’s defence in the 18-yard box, only to hammer his effort over the bar. Apart from a wild volley from Luis Suarez that rocketed into the stands, the visitors were yet to threaten David De Gea’s goal. Cleverley narrowly missed the target with a wonderfully-struck volley in the penalty area and Reina was glad to see it swerve past his post.
Rafael turned Glen Johnson on the right wing and charged towards goal. The defender rolled the ball into Van Persie who attempted a delicate flick towards the net. Martin Skrtel was on hand to clear it off the line but knocked it straight back into danger. Reina and Shinji Kagawa lunged for it and clattered together at full pace, knocking the keeper to the ground. The ball was finally cleared by Andre Wisdom but Reina required extensive treatment just before half time.
A strong United performance had completely flattened the Reds in the first half and the visitors were fortunate to be trailing by just the one goal. Brendan Rodgers clearly wanted to boost his attack in the second half and swapped Lucas for Daniel Sturridge.
The second half started at a much faster tempo than the first. United were relentless in charging the ball down but the Reds were finding more space on the wings. Suarez played in Wisdom who had charged forward but the defender lost his balance and his shot flew wide.
At the opposite end, Skrtel tangled with Welbeck and conceded a free kick on the left side. Van Persie swung in a high cross and Evra met it with a directed header. The ball brushed the face of Vidic and bounced past Reina’s outstretched arm, making it 2-0 to United.
The two goal advantage was short-lived however as Liverpool pulled a goal back minutes later. Steven Gerrard released a fierce shot from 20 yards which De Gea was able to push away. Sturridge had anticipated the ball coming back out and was able to guide the ball past a scrambling De Gea.
Liverpool’s confidence grew with the goal but they were still susceptible to United’s quick thinking up front. Welbeck jumped on a loose ball in the Red’s half and his attempted lay-off to the wing was blocked and fell to Kagawa, whose first-time shot was acrobatically parried away by Reina.
Despite maintaining a decent presence in attack, United’s defence was battling a Liverpool attack that was non-existent in the first half. The fresh legs of Fabio Borini were another problem for United to deal with, and he nearly made an instant impact when his long-range volley swerved past De Gea’s post.
Liverpool’s performance improved as the game went on they were pressing for an equaliser. Suarez was working hard to get the ball into dangerous areas and find his teammates in attack. The Uruguayan located Sturridge deep in United’s area and the striker smashed a shot over the bar.
The Reds enjoyed the majority of possession in the last ten minutes but the home side were holding their ground. Van Persie came close to closing it out when he met a cross with a flick off the heel but Reina caught the ball with a tidy save.
A better second half performance from the visitors was not enough to earn a point from United. The Red Devils capitalised on Liverpool’s poor start and were able to keep the visitors out long enough to claim the win. The win puts United ten points clear at the top of the Premier League table whereas Liverpool stay in eighth position.
Kopworld man of the match: Patrice Evra