Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is Anfield!!!!

How long does it take to travel from Cloud nine to Earth? If you ask Sir Alex this question, his answer would be 90 minutes. Because that’s exactly what Man Utd. Went through on their trip to Liverpool. Rafa had a day to savour as he won his first victory against Manchester United 2-1.


The start was anything but uneventful. The starting line-ups were pre-cursors to what was to follow. No Gerrard; No Torres for Liverpool and Ferguson sent out a statement of “intent” by playing Berbatov in the starting line-up. For the first 20 minutes everything seemed to go United’s way. Berbatov was involved in the build up on the right hand side to what would eventually be a Carlos Tevez goal. Tevez had another chance when he had to net in a cross with Just Reina to beat but he couldn’t keep it down. Tevez and United eventually paid heavily for that miss because as it turned out Liverpool just arrived into the game late. When they did, they swept away the “Red Devils”. For the next 70 minutes only one team played.


There were the likes of Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Kuyt and Keane on the pitch but the irony was all the three goals were scored due to big defensive lapses. Javier Masceranho was the first culprit for not tracking Tevez’s run into the middle.Unmarked Tevez netted Berbatov’s cross in the 3rd minute to give United the lead. Most of Liverpool’s attacking was from the right, with Arbeloa and debutant Riera being impressive. In the 26th minute, Van Der Saar messed up a Liverpool cross to fumble the ball to Wes Brown’s feet resulting in an own goal. Liverpool were level. As hard as United tried, it wasn’t just their day. Carrick was making his comeback from an injury but that didn’t last long. He injured himself on a sliding tackle trying to win the ball back. A substitution was apparent and Liverpool were getting on top.


Second half continued to be more embarrassment for the visitors. Ryan Giggs came in for Carrick. It seemed as if the substitution would work when his long distance drive was on target making Reina stretch to keep it out. As it turned out that wouldn’t be Giggs most significant moment in the game. Liverpool were keeping up the pressure at the other end. Rafa brought in Gerrard and Babel to induce some pace into the Liverpool attack. In the 75th minute, Giggs, riding the baseline, instead of kicking the ball over for a corner, tried to keep it in play only for Liverpool to take possession. Kuyt’s cross met Babel’s legs resulting in the winner for Liverpool. But the trauma for United was far from over. A minute before full time, Vidic made an error in judgement hustling for a ball he was never in contention for. He was given a second yellow and a red. He will now miss his game against Chelsea.


The victory now leaves Liverpool top of the table but Chelsea can catch them when they play Manchester City later in the day. As for United, 4 points from the first 3 games is hardly the start they would have liked. They are not strangers to having slow starts and catching up during the latter half of the season, so don’t write them off just yet. But for their striker trio, I don’t think we will see Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez starting again for some time.