Fabio Aurelio (centre) celebrates after scoring the fourth
goal of the game, with team mates Sami Hyypia (left) and
(Photo: PA Photos)
Old Trafford demons
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Javier Mascherano believes he has
exorcised his Old Trafford demons after helping Liverpool
thrash Manchester United.
The champions were thumped 4-1 at home by Rafael Benitez’s
rampant side to breathe new life into the title race.
Mascherano had been sent off by Steve Bennett in
controversial circumstances on Liverpool’s last visit to
their bitter rivals 12 months ago, a game which the visitors
went on to lose 3-0.
The Argentine was booked on Saturday but kept his cool amid
the intense atmosphere to avoid another red card.
And Mascherano said: “It’s a much better feeling than last
year. I had to forget about what happened here last year.
“Sometimes things happen like this in football but I was
sure going into this game that I wouldn’t have the same
problem at Old Trafford this time. I was determined not to
suffer that again.
“You have to look forward in football and not dwell on
problems in the past. I was booked but it wasn’t a bad foul.
The referee told me I had done five or six fouls. I didn’t
agree but it’s okay, I made sure I was focused on the game
and helping my team-mates to win.”
Liverpool’s triumph followed their four-goal hammering of
Real Madrid in the Champions League last Tuesday.
And Mascherano reckons the players have now set a standard
they must strive to maintain for the remainder of the
“The team played very well and we kept the same level as we
showed against Real Madrid on Tuesday night,” said the
midfielder. “We have to keep going the same way. It is a
great day for the supporters and we are really happy.
“We played very well against Real Madrid and that gave us a
lot of confidence to bring to Old Trafford. To beat Real and
now United with four goals in each game is very good.
“It was very difficult in the beginning with falling behind
to the penalty but we showed a lot of character and quality
to come back into the game and win.”
Fernando Torres ran United’s defence ragged and scored
Liverpool’s equaliser before playing the pass for Steven
Gerrard to win the penalty from which the visitors went
“Fernando is so important for us,” said Mascherano. “We were
losing the game but when you have key players like Fernando
and Stevie in front of you, and in that form, then it gives
you confidence that you can always go on and win, no matter
who you are playing against. They are two top players who
can do anything.
“We worked really well in defence and United didn’t create
many chances. You have to give the defenders credit too. We
played as a team against United and we need to keep that
Despite their defeat, United remain four points ahead of
second-placed Chelsea and Liverpool with a game in hand,
with the pursuers having only nine games remaining.
And Mascherano admitted: “I don’t know if we can win the
league. We don’t need to think about the title race right
now, we just need to keep this form going. It would be wrong
of us to start talking about being in the title race again.
United still have a good lead over us and we need to keep
“If United don’t lose then it will be really difficult to
catch them but we need to win all our games. We have to take
it step by step.
“All we can do now is keep going. There are still nine games
to go and we need to win every single one to have a chance.”
can rival the best
By Alan Hansen - The Daily Telegraph
It will not be one of turmoil, or of doom
and gloom, but it is the nature of the business that after
the manner of Saturday's defeat, and the way they played,
they will have a difficult few days' training until they
have a chance to put things right at Fulham next Saturday.
The result against Liverpool was not just a defeat, it was
When you are in a championship race, your attitude and
mentality can change so quickly. For United it was not so
much complacency that affected them as overconfidence. I
remember the same situation fighting for the championship in
1984, when we played Southampton and got beaten 4-1 at the
Dell in 1989 – and it could have been 44-1. When the season
has been going unbelievably well, particularly for the back
four and the goalkeeper, you start to think you are
Seventh heaven puts Liverpool decline into focusFortunately
for United, any complacency is forbidden under Sir Alex
Ferguson. I think he will be absolutely seething about the
fact that Wayne Rooney's actions in coming out and declaring
he hated Liverpool, because it is a golden rule that you
never put undue pressure on yourself or your team-mates.
The atmosphere is so sensitive before a game of such
magnitude that you have a responsibility not to inflame it
further. So Rooney was naďve, and it was even more naďve
that he sought to justify his statement afterwards.
But you cannot disguise the truth that during the last week,
Liverpool have played unbelievably well. For as good a week
as I can recall at the club, I would have to go back to
1984, when we won the Merseyside derby and then went to
Steaua Bucharest and beat them, but in terms of the
confidence that Liverpool's wins over Real Madrid and United
have brought, it has been a sensational seven days.
The way that Liverpool successfully penned Madrid in last
Tuesday night showed the type of tactics that managers have
been attempting to adopt there for a long time. It showed
how, when you exert the right pressure upon the opposition,
you can just roll over the top of them. Even though United
remain in pole position in the Premier League, Liverpool
will prove really hard to beat in the Champions League.
Nobody will want to face them.
You start to wonder, when you see such displays, whether
Rafa Benitez will come to regret how Liverpool played
against the lesser teams. But we have also seen how, when he
puts his best XI out on the pitch, the team can compete with
anybody. With Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres fit, and
with everybody in the spine of the team performing well,
they are definitely getting closer to United.
I still do not feel that Liverpool have the same strength in
depth as United and if they are to finish second in the
title race and United first, this is what will have cost
them. So what happens next is that to go back to the issue
of Benitez's contracts, to the owners of the club, and to
the acquisition of new players who can come and fill in the
missing pieces. But that is for another day, and after a
week like the last one I would not want to be looking for
negatives. These two wins have galvanised everybody at
The tactics on both occasions were what Liverpool and their
supporters have been crying out for. The team had a
blistering pace that made superstar defences look ordinary.
Liverpool have also won 13 points this season against the
other teams in the big four, and when you combine this with
their Champions League form you see how they are rivalling
United. It is encouraging, too, how the two full-backs,
Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa, have started to play
exceptionally well, appearing comfortable and looking like
they are growing into their positions. It is just the times
that Liverpool have to rotate that are a concern, but my
argument against this would be Sami Hyypia.
Many other clubs have tried to sign Hyypia, but Liverpool
have resisted and on Saturday you could see why. He came in
at the last minute against United – although for the
Champions League he could not even get in the squad – and he
was great in the air, great positionally, and reflected
tremendous composure. I believe he is better than a rotating
player but Liverpool do not need only one of these players
who can step in, they need seven or eight of them.
Liverpool might not win the league this season, and this
will be a because of a succession of highs and lows. But the
past seven days have represented a particular high: the best
moment of the season for them, a sensational week.
Hyypia: Best week since 2001
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Sami Hyypia believes Liverpool have
enjoyed their best week of results since they clinched an
historic treble in 2001.
"It's been a good week," said the 35-year-old, who was
signed by Gerard Houllier in 1999. "I was just asked if I've
had a week like this before and I couldn't think of one
since in 2001 when we won a few cups in one week."
Liverpool are four points off top spot with nine games
remaining following the 4-1 victory over Manchester United.
The leaders also have a game in hand, but Hyypia insists no
one in the Anfield dressing room will stop believing in
their title dream until it becomes mathematically
"We needed to win this game and we did. Everyone is happy
with the result and I'm sure a few of the other teams will
be happy too," he said.
"It's been a fantastic week but United are still four points
ahead with a game in hand. It's going to be difficult to
think about the title but we'll keep fighting until the end
and see what happens.
"We can't control how they do so we just need to concentrate
on ourselves and hope they drop some points.
"If we didn't believe then we might as well stop the season
now. You have to believe while ever you still have a chance.
We have to do our best and win our games, and maybe Man Utd
will drop points in some of their games and we can take
Hyypia started the game as a last-minute replacement for
Alvaro Arbeloa, who hurt his hamstring in the warm up.
The big Finn revealed afterwards that he had just a few
minutes to prepare.
"I found out just a few minutes before we came out," he
"I was wondering how the first minutes would go but I got
into it and had no problems."
Ferdinand won't blame
Vidic for Liverpool defeat
By Stephen Crawford - Goal.com
On the scale of things, Nemanja Vidic had
a fairly terrible day at the office today. Receiving a
straight red for bringing down Steven Gerrard and making a
mistake that allowed Fernando Torres to convert an
equalizer, it really was not the big Serbian's day.
Speaking to MUTV, Rio Ferdinand gave his thoughts:
"The sending-off and third goal came at a really critical
time. I thought the referee's decision to send Vida off was
debatable as I could have got over there to cover.
"Vida has been one of our most consistent players this
season and everyone is allowed to make a mistake, so we
won’t be getting on his back."
After a refusal to castigate his fellow defender, Rio
summarized the game from his perspective:
"It was a nervy start from both teams but we took the lead
and started to get a foot in the game.
"Even when they were 2-1 up, we started to turn the screw in
the second half and Carlos Tevez had a half-chance".
Ferdinand only displayed positivity despite suffering such a
horrendous defeat, claiming that his team would use the loss
as a learning experience.
"Losing any game is disappointing, losing to your big rivals
is even worse and the scoreline compounds that.
"But we have to turn this into a positive. This game will
have torn out any sub-conscious complacency there may have
been. We got a rude awakening today that if we don’t go out
and work hard as a collective unit then we won’t get the
"We now have time to dust ourselves down and get our minds
on the game against Fulham next week. It would have been
nice if that game was right round the corner but we have to
deal with what’s in front of us."
Fergie: We were the better team
By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports
Sir Alex Ferguson claimed Manchester
United were ‘the better team’ despite being humbled 4-1 by
title rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.
The Reds reduced the deficit at the top of the table to four
points, with their biggest away win against United since
But Ferguson was in no mood to be charitable after the game
and insisted the match did not reflect the emphatic
"It is a hard one to take because I felt we were the better
team," he said.
"That is not reflected in the scoreline and quite rightly,
when you win 4-1 you get all the plaudits. I can't deny
But the United boss has called on his players to bounce back
from the defeat and continue their title charge.
The Red Devils have a game in hand over their rivals and
Ferguson insists they are still in the box seat.
“There is no complacency on our part," added Ferguson.
"We have lost a game. We need to respond and that is what we
"If the league started now and we had a four-point start I
would take it.”
Benitez: We must
win every battle
Rafael Benitez has set Liverpool the
target of winning all their remaining nine games if they
want to wrestle the Premier League title away from
The Reds recorded their biggest win at Old Trafford since
1936 as they completed a 4-1 rout of Alex Ferguson’s men,
who had Nemanja Vidic sent off near the end.
It cut United’s lead at the Premier League summit to four
points, although they retain a game in hand.
And while they remain hot favourites to land a third
successive championship - and their 18th overall, Benitez
can look at the run-in with fresh optimism.
“We have beaten Real Madrid and Manchester United in the
same week,” observed the Liverpool boss.
“If we can beat them, we can beat anybody.
“Realistically, we have to win all of our games. But part of
winning the war is winning football matches.
“We have more belief and more confidence now. It will be
difficult but we can do it.”
Liverpool’s win was more remarkable given Cristiano Ronaldo
put the hosts in front from the penalty spot midway through
the first half after Pepe Reina had sent Park Ji-sung
But it was a rare moment of agony for the visitors, on an
afternoon to forget for Vidic.
The Serbian has been a model of consistency this season but
it was his double blunder five minutes after Ronaldo’s
opener that gifted Fernando Torres his equaliser.
Steven Gerrard added a second, also from the spot, before
half-time, the prelude to another moment of madness for
Vidic, whose mis-control left him no option other than to
haul down the Liverpool skipper.
For the second time this season, Vidic was red-carded
against Liverpool. He was still making his way down the
tunnel when Fabio Aurelio curled home the visitors’ third,
Andrea Dossena capping a fine performance in stoppage time
after Gerrard had missed a gilt-edged opportunity of his
“Torres and Gerrard are obviously key players for us,”
“When they are on the pitch the rest of the team has more
It was a particularly pleasing result for Benitez given his
recent outburst at Ferguson, now known as ’Rafa’s rant’.
Although it has been widely interpreted as a moment of
folly, the Liverpool manager stands by his comments.
“What I said were facts,” he said. “I did not say anything
that wasn’t true. Sir Alex Ferguson is a great manager and I
have a lot of respect for him. But I have to defend my
Gerrard hails Liverpool success
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard hopes the
team’s crushing 4-1 victory over Manchester United will not
only spur the Merseysiders on as they play catch-up at the
top of the Premier League, but will also prove to other
teams that the leaders can be beaten.
Rafael Benitez’s side battled back from a goal down to
defeat United in clinical fashion, Fernando Torres and
Gerrard turning the match on its head before the break, with
Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena easing Liverpool well clear
before the end.
Gerrard said: “The important thing is that we have made the
gap smaller (United lead by four points still with a game in
hand). We realise that Manchester United are a fantastic
team and there’s still a lot of work to do.
“We’ll need a little bit of luck along the way but hopefully
that gives teams that are going to play against Manchester
United a bit of belief that they can be beaten. And
hopefully it will give us a lot of confidence to go on and
win as many games as we can.”
The England midfielder was ecstatic to score his first ever
goal at Old Trafford, but praised the team performance as a
whole for their second four-goal haul of the week.
“I’ve been lucky enough to experience winning here before
and that was also a magnificent feeling, but to score a goal
after all the stick I’ve had from United fans over the last
10 years – well, it’s nice to score and rub it in a bit.
“It was magnificent, a great team performance. From front to
back we worked very hard today, showed great character after
going a goal down and it was a magnificent win.
“In the end it was comfortable with a man being sent off,
but I think we were men today, we controlled the game. It’s
not very often you see Manchester United getting beat 4-1 at
Liverpool run riot at United
By Tom Kell - Setanta Sports
Liverpool capped off a wonderful week and
left the door ajar on the Premier League title with a 4-1
mauling of Manchester United that draws them to within four
points of their hosts.
It is a result that certainly does not lose United their
third successive Premier League crown, but one that gives
both their conquerors on Saturday lunchtime and Chelsea more
than a sniff of catching them.
Rafa Benitez’s rant was, to many, the turning point of the
season so how ironic it should be that, at Old Trafford and
against United, a new pivotal moment in the campaign be
created thanks to a penalty against United and the dismissal
of Nemanja Vidic.
Vidic was also hugely culpable for the Fernando Torres goal
that cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s early penalty for the
league leaders. Gerrard put his side in front from the spot
before half-time, Fabio Aurelio doubled the advantage with a
gorgeous free-kick after Vidic’s dismissal and Andrea
Dossena capped off a scarcely believable result.
Rafa Benitez’s approach is hardly tailor-made to coming from
behind so he, even more so than everyone else willing United
to slip up, must have been particularly irked by his fellow
Spaniard Jose Reina’s aberrational moment.
A penalty-saving specialist he might be but even that was no
reason for Reina’s inexplicable charge off his line midway
through the first half. Park Ji-Sung got to the ball first
and the Liverpool keeper succeeded only in felling the South
Korean. Alan Wiley pointed to the spot with an air of
inevitably that was matched only by what followed – Reina
guessed right but Ronaldo’s precision won over.
Benitez’s dismay must have been heightened by the fact that,
aside from a much-needed Jamie Carragher block to deny Park,
it was his side that looked the more threatening both before
and after they went behind. No prizes for guessing their
Torres and Gerrard both showed off touches of their
trademarks – the former’s fleet of turn and the latter’s
penchant to surge forward caused the United to defence to
wobble – but it was from the most unlikely means that their
The words ‘mistake’ and ‘Nemanja Vidic’ are far from common
bedfellows but the Serbian’s decision to let Martin Skrtel’s
hoof up the pitch was an error in judgement every inch as
severe and every bit as damaging as that of Reina’s. Torres
snuck in to pilfer the ball and, one-on-one with Edwin Van
der Sar, was too quick and too clinical to stop.
Talking of too quick….
It was Gerrard’s extensive stride that took him past the
more conventionally pacy Patrice Evra who slid in with a
lack of wisdom of Reina-esque proportions. The Liverpool
captain dusted himself down and nestled the ball home via
the hand of Van der Sar.
The time had come for questions to be asked. It is no secret
that The Reds are past masters at protecting a lead but how
good are United – who had not been behind at home in the
league since the opening day of the season – at overhauling
Their chances of doing so were helped no end by Reina. Three
times in the opening 15 minutes of the second period he was
horribly nervy in collecting the ball and was very nearly
punished on the first occasion when he watched on as
Ronaldo’s skewed cross from the left rattled against his
No doubt still reeling from Ferguson’s half-time words of
wisdom, United well and truly upped the tempo. Energetic and
dominant on the ball they might have been, but messrs
Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez were shackled superbly.
Tevez had but a sniff midway through the second half before
Sir Alex Ferguson made a triple change that was most
certainly not to be sniffed at. However, his grand plans of
introducing Dimitar Berbatov, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in
one fell swoop were thrown into disarray barely two minutes
later when Vidic’s day turned from bad to worse.
It was his clumsy touch that allowed Gerrard to get the
wrong side of him and, when he hauled down the visitors’
skipper, Wiley was forced to flash just his second red card
of the season. Aurelio stepped up to the ensuing free-kick
and deliciously bent it past an unmoved Van der Sar.
Gerrard clumsily sent a late chance over but United's
abysmal attempts to defend Reina's long ball allowed Dossena
- for the second time in four days - to come off the bench
to score a late goal by lifting the ball superbly over Van
Game over, Premier League title race certainly not.