Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and United’s Robin van Persie
exchange words, at Anfield, on Sunday
Liverpool: Daniel Sturridge scored Liverpool’s winner for the third straight Premier League match to condemn fierce rivals Manchester United to a 0-1 loss on Sunday, handing David Moyes his first defeat as manager of the champions.
The England striker flicked home a close-range header in the fourth minute to maintain his red-hot form and his side’s perfect start to the season. Liverpool have won all three of their games 1-0.
United barely created a clear-cut chance in the absence of Wayne Rooney, missing after sustaining a head injury in training on Saturday, and have just four points from a possible nine under Moyes. And with an away match at Manchester City to come in his fifth league match, the start to Moyes’ tenure as Alex Ferguson’s replacement doesn’t get any easier.
The match was played on the eve of what would have been the 100th birthday of the late Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who died in 1981 after helping turn the club into the leading force in English football in a 15-year spell from 1959-74.
Shankly’s daughter and six grandchildren stood on the touchline as Liverpool fans – and most of United’s travelling fans – took part in a minute’s applause in the Scot’s honour. There was a mosaic of Shankly in The Kop stand, along with a banner saying “He Made People Happy”, while a stirring rendition of club anthem “You’ll never walk alone” was belted out before kick-off.
It certainly got Liverpool’s players fired up and they were first to every ball in a breathless opening spell in which Sturridge grabbed his 11th goal in his last nine Liverpool matches.
Daniel Agger beat Rio Ferdinand to Steven Gerrard’s outswinging corner and Sturridge was there inside the six-yard box to stoop and flick home a deft header. The sound was deafening as Sturridge and the whole Liverpool team ran to manager Brendan Rodgers, who has instilled belief into the striker since his move from Chelsea in January.
United took their time to get into the game, although it needed a great challenge from Glen Johnson to stop Robin van Persie getting his shot away. That added to a frustrating first-half for the Dutchman, who tangled with Agger early on, was booked for a petty foul on the same defender and then got in heated confrontations with Martin Skrtel and Gerrard just before half-time.
It was a tight, frenetic and typically feisty encounter between England’s most successful clubs, who have won the top-flight title 38 times between them. Liverpool’s last came in 1990, however, and they have been in their rivals’ shadow during Ferguson’s trophy-laden reign.
With Ferguson now gone, Liverpool can start dreaming of closing the gap. Three straight wins to start the season, after already beating Stoke and Aston Villa, isn’t a bad way to start although the team had to work hard in the second half to achieve it.
“It is a great win for our belief, last season we drew too many of the big games and we lost both times to Manchester United, but today was another marker for us and since January our form has been very, very good,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“Manchester United played well and we weren't as fluent as we have been but we now have the mentality to get results.”
Moyes looked for the positives from the defeat. I thought we played really well,” Moyes said.
“We had long periods of the game but couldn't score. Apart from the lapse in concentration for their goal, we played well.”