Sep 23, 2012, 10:43 AM EDT
Man of the Match: Quietly, Rio Ferdinand looked like his old self, something Manchester United desperately needed. The Red Devils spent most of the match without the ball, and with Liverpool attacker Luis Suárez allowed to drop back into the space in front of the defense and receive the ball, Ferdinand needed to summon much of his old speed an athleticism he’s reported to keep up with the Reds’ main threat. Despite seemingly picking up an injury in the 22nd minute, Ferdinand was up to the task. Suárez’s only moments of danger came away from his area, leaving Liverpool with very few chances on United’s goal.
Packaged for takeaway:
- Anfield’s first match since the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report made for an emotional occasion. The traditional pre-match rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was accompanied by one half of the venue spelling out “Justice” in red-on-white placards, the other displaying “The Truth” in white-on-red.
- In the context of this derby, it was an incredible moment: 22 players, evenly divided on either side of England’s defining rivalry, standing in respect at their starting positions while the crowd honored those tragically lost, the HIP finally providing the vindication for which supporters had tirelessly fought.
- Liverpool controlled the first third of the match, holding 65 percent of the possession through the first 35 minutes. Unfortunately for Reds, that didn’t translate into scoring chances. Luis Suárez created a scary moment for Anders Lindegaard in the seventh minute and placed a hard but non-threatening direct kick on goal in the 41st, but aside from that, the greatest benefit of Liverpool’s possession was making Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa non-factors.
- In the 39th minute the match, Jonjo Shelvey and referee Mark Halsey changed the match. Shelvey went through the back of Ryan Giggs in midfield, dispossessing the United midfielder. As Jonny Evans slid into the loose ball, Shelvey left his feet and dove in feet-first, drawing the red card.
- On the replay, the tackle looked relatively harmless. Of course, that’s not the point. You can’t judge these things by the outcome. Shelvey’s choice to launch himself into the tackle was reckless, putting him at risk of being dismissed. There was argument for a yellow – Shelvey keeping his legs open, not directly putting his feet into Evans, though his right foot made contact. That Halsey was still within reason to show Shelvey red speaks to the inanity of the challenge.
- Despite being down a man, Liverpool remained in control through halftime, coming out of intermission and immediately creating a goal. Paul Scholes, brought on for Nani at the break, played a crucial role in allowing the score, beaten by Suso on the flank before redirecting an errant ball back into the penalty area, where Steven Gerrard collected and half-volleyed past Lindegaard.
- With the extent to which Liverpool had been dominating possession, the goal felt like it could be decisive, even if United was up a man. Perhaps that was the occasion speaking (or the power of a Steven Gerrard goal), because United almost immediately answered. Coming onto a ball chested down in the penalty area by Shinji Kagawa, Rafael curled a left-footed shot from 14 yards out to the right of goal just inside Pepe Reina’s far post, leveling the score at one after 51 minutes.
- While the match was played more evenly after the Rafael goal, Liverpool still didn’t seem like a team playing with 10. Their passing game was able to maintain a bulk of the possession, and with Suso brought on for Fabio Borini at half time, they had somebody who could carry the ball into attack and challenge United with the ball at his feet.
- Brendan Rodgers, however, didn’t seem willing to play with fire. In the 66th minute, Jordan Henderson was brought on for his first Premier League appearance of the season, replacing Raheem Sterling. That left Luis Suárez alone up top, Liverpool apparently setting up to see out the draw.
- In the 76th minute, it went bad for Liverpool. A Suso turnover in midfield was picked up by Antonio Valencia who carried the ball from the center line to the edge of Reina’s six. As Valencia went to the right of Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson appeared to run through the midfielder’s back, giving the penalty.
- It wasn’t the worst penalty to give, though Reina was booked for protesting Halsey’s call. Valencia was about to let go of a shot that seemed pretty sure to go in. Most penalties find their way in, too, but with Valencia only having to put the ball under Reina from four yards out, the spot kick probably gave Liverpool the better chance to salvage a point.
- Upping the drama, there was a four-minute gap between the kick being awarded and taken, with Daniel Agger hurt trying to prevent Valencia from retrieving Suso’s turnover. As Agger was carried off, Jamie Carragher came on, Brendan Rodgers having to use his final substitute on a defender while staring at a one-goal deficit.
- That assumed Manchester United would convert, not a given considering the Red Devils had missed penalties in their last three matches. Van Persie, however, hit a near-perfect kick into the right of Reina’s goal, and although the keeper got a great jump and guessed correctly, he couldn’t get enough on the ball to prevent the go-ahead goal.
- Liverpool spent the match’s last 17 minutes (10 relegation, seven stoppage time) firing wishful crosses into Lindegaard’s area, though it was clear the match was over.
- For Manchester United, it was a day of good fortune. Though you can say United creates their own luck (like Valencia drawing Johnson’s foul), they didn’t induce Shelvey’s challenge.
- Regardless, it’s three points at Anfield and four wins in a row, United now second in the league with 12 points (one behind Chelsea).
- For Liverpool, it was another performance that, in isolation, should encourage their fans, but now winless in five matches, Reds are probably tired to hearing about silver linings. Player-for-player, Liverpool was the better team with one huge exception: Their inexperienced midfielder who allowed himself to be dismissed.
May 19, 2013, 7:51 PM EDT
A dull, scoreless first half picked up in the second term as D.C. United grabbed a point against the league’s second-best team and ended their club-record losing streak at 7 matches.
May 19, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
With his eye on the imminent vacancy at Real Madrid left by Jose Mourinho’s almost certain departure, Paris Saint-Germain’s mastermind Carlo Ancelotti may now have a large hurdle to get past if he is to land his ideal job in Spain’s capital.
May 19, 2013, 5:34 PM EDT
Fernando Torres broke his Premier League scoring drought by banging home the game-winner to secure Chelsea a third place finish.
May 19, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT
Heartbreak in Serie A this year belongs to Fiorentina. Mario Balotelli converted a penalty in the 84th minute to draw level and two minutes later Philippe Mexes slotted home a cross to secure Europe’s top competition for AC Milan.
May 19, 2013, 5:01 PM EDT
Rare as they are, we’ve seen more than our share of “Olimpico” goals in MLS over the last pair of seasons, including one last night:
May 19, 2013, 4:47 PM EDT
With Arsenal and Tottenham the only teams battling for any meaningful positioning in the Premier League table, the final day still had implications for many teams in the form of placement prize money.
May 19, 2013, 4:28 PM EDT
Sir Alex Ferguson managed the final match of his career away from Old Trafford, and it looked set to complete on a high note, until the opposition had other ideas late.
May 19, 2013, 4:25 PM EDT
Another game-winning strike from Gareth Bale wasn’t enough to save Tottenham from more Champions League heartache.
May 19, 2013, 3:50 PM EDT
New York took all the points from the L.A. Galaxy on Tim Cahill’s late goal. So let’s talk about that goal.
May 19, 2013, 3:17 PM EDT
This Landon Donovan debate regarding his place on the national team is not going anywhere. So, did Sunday’s performance move the needle either way?
May 19, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT
Arsenal secured its 16th consecutive spot on the Champions League with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
May 19, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
Sensational news for fans around BMO Field:
May 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
With David Beckham-esque tears streaming down my cheeks, we’re finally here: The final day of the 2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League.
May 19, 2013, 10:19 AM EDT
Newcastle have nothing to play for and have been a disaster at home of late, losing their last two matches at St. James’ Park by a combined 9-0.
May 19, 2013, 10:13 AM EDT
The timing on this thing in two words: pretty bad:
May 19, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves on the 20-year-old goal-scoring sensation … :
May 19, 2013, 12:48 AM EDT
The Sounders exploit Dallas’ young back line in a meeting of two Western Conference teams in top form. Final score: 4-2 for the Sounders:
May 18, 2013, 11:41 PM EDT
Juan Agudelo makes his New England debut as Jay Heaps posts one of the best wins of his young coaching career:
May 18, 2013, 10:33 PM EDT
Highlights and context as “Jack Mac” scores his league-leading 8th goal:
May 18, 2013, 9:50 PM EDT
Cascadia Cup matches are always interesting, and Saturday’s 2-2 draw at BC Place was full of talking points:
- Where Landon Donovan’s afternoon takes us in the ongoing U.S. national team debate 2
- Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney would be league’s youngest Golden Boot winner 0
- Talking points on Portland’s 2-2 draw with Vancouver 0
- PSG president confirms Saturday was likely David Beckham’s farewell match 3
- As Alex Ferguson says goodbye, Manchester United’s cupboard remains stocked 1
- Live Extra: Watch live coverage of Penguins-Senators
- PBT: Parker carves up Grizzlies as Spurs roll in Gm. 1
- PHT: Bruins crack Lundqvist, hammer Rangers
- MST: No bumping on Bump Day at Indy 500
- PST: Arsenal grabs Champions League spot
- Ferguson's managerial career ends with 5-5 draw
- Moore stays unbeaten as Rays top Orioles
- Play Video: Highlights: Union outlast Fire
- Play Video: Sir Alex says goodbye
- Play Video: Morgan committed to growth of new women's league
- Play Video: Boy with cancer, 8, scores against major league soccer team
- Play Video: Red Bulls pull off win on the road
- Play Video: Highlights: Montreal extinguish Chicago