Babel and Keane celebrate Babel's winning goal. (Photo:
Babel: It was a
By Joe Curran - LFC Official Website
Ryan Babel today revealed how it felt to
score the winner in Saturday's breakthrough victory over
The Dutch winger was on the pitch for just seven minutes
before finding the net with an expert finish at the Kop end
after being set up by the hard-working Dirk Kuyt.
The move ensured Liverpool ended a four-year wait to defeat
Alex Ferguson's men in the league, and Babel, who has now
scored 11 goals for the club, confirmed it was a great
personal moment for him.
"It was a fantastic moment for me and for the team," said
Babel. "Before I came onto the pitch the manager was telling
me to give the game some energy.
"He said I have done that every time I have come off the
bench and said to try and do the same this time. The fact
that the goal came towards the end of the game was very good
for us because it meant they did not have too much time to
The 20-year-old has now found the net eight times for the
Reds after coming on as a substitute.
He added: "This is a new season and we want to get off to a
good start, so this is an important goal for me and the
"Hopefully I can score more important goals because there
are a lot of games still to play and a lot of points to play
"But it's always nice to score a goal against a big
opponent, especially Manchester United, and I suppose it is
an even better feeling when you've only come into the game
late on as a substitute.
"We want to be able to compete until the end of the season
and you have a better chance of doing that if you win games
Win shows Reds
may have cracked it
TEAMtalk's Reece Killworth reflects on
Liverpool's 2-1 victory over Manchester United - but warns
the hard work starts now for Rafael Benitez.
As statements of intent go, it was akin to parking a
battalion of tanks on the Old Trafford forecourt.
Forget Manchester City's deadline-busting record signing of
Robinho, which even upstaged Manchester United's
£30.75million recruitment of Dimitar Berbatov.
Because as impressive as the goal the Brazilian scored on
his debut was, and as much as manager Mark Hughes insists
the 3-1 defeat by Chelsea was not a "reality check", the
euphoria that has surrounded the City of Manchester Stadium
was brought down a notch or two as they were clinically
swept aside in front of their own fans.
The real statement of intent came at Anfield, where Rafael
Benitez's Liverpool came from a goal behind to beat the
English and European champions 2-1.
The scoreline barely told the story as having weathered an
early storm - in which Berbatov went close himself and then
set up Carlos Tevez to score - the hosts came into their own
and dominated from the moment Edwin van der Sar needlessly
palmed a deflected shot onto the legs of the Wes Brown.
Yes, as United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said after the game,
Liverpool had "a bit of fortune with both goals" - with Ryan
Babel's clincher hardly the cleanest of strikes - but if
ever there was a case of luck being earnt then this was it.
Benitez has always exuded the air of a man who were he at a
Blackjack table with 16 in front of him would rather stick
Yet this was different. Refreshingly different.
Maybe it was the realisation that United are now within one
title of Liverpool's stand-alone record of 18 domestic
Maybe it was the realistation that in his five years at
Anfield his side have never truly done themselves justice in
this fixture, though in truth their five successive defeats
did not tell the whole story of those games.
Or maybe it was the realisation that - as many have
speculated - this season is crunch time for Benitez in the
Whatever, from the moment the first whistle blew it was
clear something was different.
Rather than letting United have a few easy touches and find
their footing in a white-hot Anfield atmosphere, Yossi
Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt chased like terriers to force an
error from the usually unflappable Red Devils backline.
Of course, their efforts would come to nothing as United not
only opened the scoring but also looked much more the
confident side for the first 25 minutes.
But it was a sign that maybe, just maybe, things had
And from the moment Brown turned the ball into his own net
it was as though a light suddenly switched back on in the
Javier Mascherano, possibly seeking redemption after
allowing Tevez to evade his attention in the lead-up to
United's goal, tackled like a demon and his central-midfield
partner Xabi Alonso also caught the eye.
After a fitful start, debutant Albert Riera grew in
confidence while on the other flank Benayoun was a bundle of
energy and no little quality.
Up front Kuyt and Robbie Keane were tireless, even if the
latter appears to have become a rabbit in the headlights
when presented with a shooting chance.
And when Benitez had the chance to play safe as Benayoun and
Riera tired, he did the opposite as Babel and Steven Gerrard
Babel, of course, scored the winner while Gerrard's mere
presence - as always - seemed to lift Liverpool's attacking
threat to another level.
Before the game Sky pundit - and former Liverpool midfielder
- Jamie Redknapp had suggested Benitez still "didn't get"
the Premier League.
A familiar criticism - his constant tinkering and apparent
refusal to go for the jugular have had Liverpool fans
tearing their hair out at times.
Yet this could be the day people look back and say, finally,
he got it. Could be.
Because as Liverpool bask in the glory of a deserved victory
over the fiercest rivals, the elephant in the room is the
return of the Champions League.
Benitez's perceived obsession with 'Big Ears' has certainly
borne fruit in the form of that famous night in Istanbul -
and a final appearance in Athens.
But that has come at an obvious cost domestically as United
and Chelsea have kept them firmly off their "perch".
Beating United represents a step into unchartered territory
for Benitez, but now the hard work really starts.
For a victory over the reigning champions - as impressive as
it was - won't win Liverpool the title; indeed finishing
above the Red Devils may not even guarantee that given
Chelsea's early-season form.
Now Benitez must balance the demands of domestic and
European campaigns as he has never quite managed before, and
as Ferguson did so memorably last season.
He must prove that this isn't the latest false hope at
Anfield. He must prove that, finally, he has cracked it.
on full throttle
By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo
Rafa Benitez got it wrong on Saturday.
Badly, badly wrong.
Asked pre-match what his team had to do to finally inflict
defeat on Man United, the Reds boss replied: “If we score
first, we can win”.
By that token, Benitez – like pretty much everyone else
inside Anfield – must have thought the wait for victory over
the reigning champions was set to continue when Carlos Tevez
gave United the lead after just three minutes.
The bookies lengthened their already generous odds on a home
win, the visiting supporters in the away end gloated and
looked forward to a stroll to victory and the majority of
Liverpool fans started to fear yet another ritual
humiliation at the hands of their most hated rivals.
Each of these reactions was apt as in going a goal behind
Liverpool had to do something which they hadn’t done in
almost seven years of duels with United – score twice
against them in a single game.
And they had to do so without regular match-winners Steven
Gerrard and Fernando Torres, who were consigned to bench
duty after their recent struggles with injury.
The so called “two man team” had to find two goals without
their two men. Orders don’t come any taller than that.
Oh, and to make matters worse, Tevez’s early goal prompted a
spell from United in which their imaginative use of the ball
and swaggering movement was threatening to overwhelm a
Liverpool side which had been found wanting badly when the
But the night is always darkest before the dawn and little
by little shafts of light began to break through the
unremitting gloom to illuminate Liverpool’s play and it
wasn’t long before it was they, and not their much vaunted
foes, who were playing all the football.
They may have needed a bit of luck to get back into the game
when a mistake from Edwin van der Sar dictated that Wes
Brown would have to take on the patsy’s role. but any good
fortune they received was richly deserved.
Recent experience has taught Liverpool to their cost that
coming under pressure in games of this magnitude induces
mistakes, so they should apologise to no-one when it is they
who benefit from an error, not when they have played with
the kind of belief, spirit and determination to make one of
Europe’s best defensive units perform, in the words of their
own manager, like a Conference team.
In the 87 minutes that followed Tevez’s strike, Liverpool
were simply magnificent. It would not be hard to think of
games in which they have passed the ball better or played
with more creativity, but you would be hard-pressed to
remember an occasion when they performed with so much desire
that their sheer will to win made them so beautiful to
Javier Mascherano set the tone, crunching into tackle after
tackle and chasing every single United player down as if
they were Steve Bennett.
Where the midfield general went others followed. So much so
that choosing a man of the match became almost as difficult
as doing PR for Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Up front, the lung-busting workrate from Robbie Keane and
Dirk Kuyt was breath-taking. In defence, Jamie Carragher and
Martin Skrtel put in the kind of bone-crunching tackles
needed to stop the most expensive forward line ever
Xabi Alonso put in his best performance in some time, Albert
Riera impressed on his debut, Pepe Reina did everything
asked of him and after a shaky start Fabio Aurelio managed
to quell the considerable threat of Wayne Rooney, who
suddenly looks almost as old as the grannies the Kop taunted
Every single player deserves plaudits but perhaps the ones
who deserve the most praise are the pair who have received
the most criticism – particularly on these pages – following
Liverpool’s lacklustre early season performances.
Yossi Benayoun proved that he is not really allergic to
tackling and in one match-changing moment the Israeli
crunched into Michael Carrick to leave the United man
Carrick was eventually forced off injured as a direct result
of Benayoun’s unlikely ferocity and United were never the
same side following his departure.
Alvaro Arbeloa was another sensation as he produced a
display which even surpassed his Nou Camp debut, when he
shackled the superlative Lionel Messi.
The Spanish right back had never even come close to hitting
such dizzy heights since then – until Saturday. The
challenge for Arbeloa now – and the rest of the team for
that matter – is for such high standards to become the norm
rather than the exception.
Ryan Babel’s goal gave Liverpool the spoils and sparked the
kind of jubilant scenes on the Kop you would normally expect
if the roundly reviled Hicks and Gillett finally got the
message and walked away from the club they are threatening
But, as the thousands of protesting fans demonstrated so
wonderfully before the game, it takes more than a couple of
American carpet baggers to suppress the Liverpool spirit.
That spirit was equally as evident on the pitch as Babel –
the umpteenth substitute to score a crucial goal during
Benitez’s reign – provided the coup de grace on a day when
hard work, effort and collective spirit was rewarded.
Such a crucial victory will inevitably act as a cause for
optimism and justifiably so. Vanquishing the reigning
English and European champions is a major achievement,
particularly after they have been given a one goal start.
But a word of warning. It is almost exactly 12 months since
the hammering of Derby County on a warm September afternoon
caused a mass outbreak of delusions of grandeur on the Kop.
Dreams of a title challenge were hatched when the reality
was Liverpool had simply become the first of several sides
to dish out a hiding to the worst team in Premier League
Granted, United occupy a totally different stratosphere to
the abject Rams and any win over them is not to be sneezed
at, particularly after waiting so long for one to come
But if this wonderful victory is to become the catalyst
which everyone at Anfield hopes it will be, then Saturday’s
performance must become the benchmark for the rest of the
Rafa: I am so proud of my team
By Joe Curran - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez today declared Liverpool's
momentous victory over Manchester United as something the
whole team can be proud of.
The Reds went down to a Carlos Tevez goal early on in the
match but rallied to produce their best performance of the
season and record a first league win over Alex Ferguson's
side in over four years.
Benitez paid tribute to his players after the match and was
happy with the amount of character his charges showed to
come from behind and take the points.
"I think today is a game we can be really satisfied with
because we were losing against a very good team," said
Benitez. "But we showed character and played very well in
the second half, so this was very positive.
"The team showed a lot of character after conceding an early
goal. I was really disappointed when they scored so early
because I wanted a high tempo from the start. They were
passing the ball and keeping possession, so we needed to
change a lot of things. I think it was really important to
have chances and to improve a lot in the second half."
There were many stand-out performances during the match, but
the Liverpool manager focused on the whole team and said:
"Today you could see a lot of players working really hard,
especially the strikers Dirk Kuyt and Robbie Keane, who were
doing amazing work up front, and also Albert Riera in his
first game played well – he is a lucky man.
"Physically he was not ready but we needed to use his
ability. And after we used Steven Gerrard, he did well too.
I can talk about a lot of players - Ryan Babel was really
good too, but I think the overall play of the team was
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson admitted that his
team couldn't cope with Liverpool's tackling and harassing
Benitez agreed, saying: "In the last two years, I can
remember that they were happy waiting and just playing on
the counter-attack until we make mistakes," added Benitez.
"And today was more or less the same situation. When you
have players with the quality of Berbatov, Tevez or Rooney
in front, sometimes they just need to wait and if we make a
mistake they will kill us off.
"We didn't make many mistakes today. We can always improve
and do things better, but the team played well.
"One thing that we needed to improve was our results against
the top sides so now we have three points and we are in a
better position than last season. We now have more wins
against the top four so hopefully it will be the same
against Chelsea and Arsenal. Everton is also another
difficult game for us."
Manchester Evening News
Disappointed United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
admitted his side failed to handle Liverpool's combative
approach in the 2-1 defeat at Anfield.
Carlos Tevez put the Reds ahead but a Wes Brown own goal and
Ryan Babel's second-half strike clinched the win for the
"You don't expect that from Manchester United," Ferguson
told Sky Sports.
"When we have a bad day we usually still get something from
"Overall, they were the better team today. Liverpool
produced a performance of tackling, hassling and getting
"The source of our defeat was not coping with the hassling
and the tackling. You have to give them credit for that -
but at the end of the day, we should cope.
"We started excellently, and it was a wonderful ball from
Berbatov for the goal. But I can't really take anything from
the game, apart from Rio Ferdinand's performance."
Reflecting on the end of a run of five successive league
wins over Liverpool, Ferguson said: "The difficulty of
holding a record like that is that it gives the other team a
big incentive every time they play you."
The United boss, asked about Vidic's dismissal, retorted:
"Carragher was making those challenges all day long, and no
fouls were given.
"We had several bookings and a red card. Is that a
reflection of Man United being a dirty team? I don't think
so. I think the crowd plays a part."
first win over United
Rafael Benitez saw Liverpool beat
Manchester United for the first time in his Anfield career
thanks to Ryan Babel's late goal in a 2-1 win.
The Reds boss had never beaten United in nine previous
league games, with the champions having won the last five
meetings between these two giants.
But United wilted under a relentless second-half pressure,
had Nemanja Vidic sent off and saw substitute Babel secure
Carlos Tevez put United ahead early on. But after a torrid
opening period, Liverpool were level with a Wes Brown own
goal before Liverpool dominated the second half and grabbed
a priceless win with 13 minutes left.
Liverpool gave new signing Albert Riera his debut but Steven
Gerrard and Fernando Torres were not risked any closer to
the initial action than the bench.
For the champions, Michael Carrick returned after an ankle
problem, but all eyes were on £30million striker Dimitar
Berbatov on his first appearance for his new club.
Liverpool fans staged a march to the ground from a local pub
to protest at the club's American owners.
But that did not stop co-owner George Gillett taking his
place in the directors' box, although not in the front row
close to the fans.
There was also a row of smartly-suited Americans, all
singing along to "You'll never walk alone" - the anthem
moved to seconds before kick-off rather than when the teams
march out, presumably to unsettle United.
It did not work. The champions were ahead after just three
Berbatov was allowed to get to the line by some sloppy
marking and covering, and Liverpool's defence was nowhere to
be seen when his pulled back cross was lashed home by Tevez.
United were quicker and more mobile all over the pitch while
Liverpool continually conceded possession.
But the Merseysiders should have scored after 13 minutes
when Edwin van der Sar fumbled a corner but Kuyt's blast
from three yards was blocked by the keeper on the line.
Liverpool at last started to get into the match as Tevez was
booked for a foul on Alvaro Arbeloa and a succession of
free-kicks pinned United back.
And they were level after 26 minutes. Xabi Alonso's curling,
low shot into the area deflected off Patrice Evra and Van
der Sar hurled himself forward.
But he only managed to push the ball on to Brown, who could
do nothing about it cannoning off him and over the line.
Riera followed the ball in, but it was the United man's last
United sent on Ryan Giggs for Carrick at the break, the
midfielder having taken a heavy blow on his ankle in the
Liverpool started the second period in much sharper form,
Benayoun almost saw a flicked effort evade Van der Sar and
Alonso fired over from 20 yards.
Keane narrowly missed breaking his scoring duck when he
failed by inches to connect with a Javier Mascherano
cross-shot. United's reply came from Paul Scholes who drove
United sent on Hargreaves for Scholes after 66 minutes,
having been forced back for much of the second spell.
Two minutes later Liverpool introduced Gerrard in place of
Benayoun as United started to come back into the game.
As if to underline the point, Jose Reina was forced into a
fine save from a dipping Giggs volley.
Riera was taken off after 71 minutes and replaced by Babel
having made a good impression after a shaky start.
And on 77 minutes, Liverpool's pressure paid off. Mascherano
battled his way down the right and to the line, Kuyt took up
possession and played the ball across for Babel to crack
Nani came on for Anderson, and Rio Ferdinand was booked for
bringing down Keane as the Irishman looked to be bursting
through on goal. Nani was next into the book for bringing
Liverpool were going to replace Keane with David Ngog, but
changed their minds at the last moment when it was clear
Mascherano had injured his ankle. The Argentinian limped off
and Sami Hyypia came on instead.
United had Vidic pushed up front by now, and Liverpool
needed three central defenders.
Vidic was then sent off for crashing his arm into Alonso's
face after 89 minutes, a second yellow card swiftly followed
by a red. He will now miss the visit to Chelsea on September