After The Match 


Liverpool-Man U 0-1 (0-1)                  Sat Jan 15.               Premier League
Goals: Rooney (21)
Team: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Pellegrino, Traore, Gerrard, Hamann, Riise, Garcia, Baros, Morientes
Subs: Pongolle (Riise 72), Nunez (Morientes 75),
Biscan (Hamann 79)
Not used: Harrison, Warnock
Yellow: Carragher (26), Nunez (87)
Brown (32), Rooney (72), Fortune (82), Keane (88)
Red: Brown (65)
Referee: S Bennett
Attendance: 44,183

                                              MATCH-REPORTS & RESULTS 
Shots on target: 5-2
Shots off target: 8-3
Fouls conceded: 12-25
Corners: 9-4
Yellow: 2-4





"We are still in
the running for
the Champions
League places."

                Rafael Benitez

1801: Steve can't perform miracles all the time
1701: Anfield haunted by the ghost of Everton past . .
1701: I'm not to blame for defeat, insists Dudek
1601: Mori handed Benitez backing
1501: Fergie hails United win
1501: Benitez refusing to blame Jerzy
1501: Dudek hands United victory


Steve can't perform miracles all the time

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

If ever a game showed why there is still too much responsibility on Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, Saturday was it.

I was disappointed to hear some critical comments regarding Gerrard's performance against Manchester United.

He wasn't on top form, but is Steven expected to perform miracles on his own every week?

When he's not at his best, who else takes responsibility to inspire the side? Other than the brilliant Jamie Carragher, I still feel there are too many players at Anfield who look to the skipper to carry the team.

If Gerrard doesn't do so, others go hiding and let the focus fall unfairly on their captain.

Steven's standards have been so high, anything less than a world class performance creates murmurs of disapproval.

I know, like most of my Chester squad, Steven was suffering from a virus over Christmas and perhaps that affected his performance.

I'm not making excuses for him. I don't need to. For the last three years he's been the most consistent midfielder in Europe, not just Liverpool.

But like every great player he has to be allowed a poor game now and again. And it's then his team-mates need to respond and raise their game. That didn't happen against Manchester United.

Roy Keane was top man in midfield at the weekend, but just because he won the battle in one game, it doesn't mean Gerrard's got anything more to learn from him.

I wouldn't swop one for the other. Keane has been a tremendous player, but the one thing he's never offered which Gerrard does is a regular supply of goals.

There have been enough United versus Liverpool games in the last four years where Gerrard outplayed Keane. I won't forget those games just because of the disappointing performance on Saturday.

Anfield haunted by the ghost of Everton past . . .

By Len Capeling - Daily Post

It was just like old times with the rapturous cries of Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, echoing across the fringes of Stanley Park.

Sadly for Liverpool, the ecstatic chants came not from the arena across the lake, but from the throats of the 4,000 or so Manchester United fans crammed into a packed Anfield.

They'd just seen their new hero slay the arch-enemy - emptying the stadium's seats quicker than an encore from Cilla Black - and they wanted everyone to know how happy that made them.

For enraged Liverpool supporters that was the final insult on an afternoon of deepest despair.

Losing to such bitter rivals is always a sickener, but seeing the fatal blow struck by a strutting exneighbour piled the punishment higher than Sir Alex Ferguson's self belief. And that's high indeed.

Could things be any worse we wondered? Well, yes, they could. Much worse.

Because although it was Rooney's boot that connected with the ball a fair way out, Jerzy Dudek saw the ball every inch of the way and it should have been a simple save for a keeper of his experience.

But no. Instead of a sprawl and a catch, Dudek stunned home supporters with what looked like a collapse, the kind of thing you see on any street when illness or alcohol get the better of your balance.

Down went Dudek in an ungainly sprawl while Rooney's effort rolled past him into the net.

You could have heard a mobile phone drop.

And not the one that sailed past Rooney's ear as one Kopite with more money that sense hurled his only link with the world at a player who may become an ever greater irritant as the years unwind.

Rooney's juvenile tendency didn't help to bandage instantly gaping wounds. Cavorting in front of the cavernous Kop, he spread his hands behind his ears as if waiting for them to cheer his first return to the city of his birth.

All this on a day when smacking a child became a punishable offence.

Quite a few red-faced, red-draped indivduals clearly ached for the chance to smack this particular youngster as he joyously immersed himself in their anguish.

He's a bit dim, isn't he, ventured one scribbler pre-match, possibly sensing the arrival of a young bull pursuing his tormentors.

Yet, in truth, the majority of Liverpool followers gave Rooney no more than a passing glance.

And even after the over-elaborate goal celebrations, they didn't feel inclined to take it out on the tearaway.

Naturally, Sir Alex defended the England prodigy, insisting, with a grain of truth: "He was right in front of the Kop - so where else was he going to celebrate scoring at goal?"

No-one from Anfield bought that, certainly not the local constabularly who took statements as soon as the game was over. I hate seeing the police get involved in this kind of thing. A fine by United for their delinquent striker ought to suffice, while the FA should warn Liverpool over the phone incident.

Tabloid rabble-rousing may still turn this small local difficulty into a hanging offence. It isn't, but Rooney needs to grow up otherwise his fooballing talents may become secondary to an unfortunate ability to do the wrong thing. If he doesn't learn, you can't see him being risked at Goodison Park in April without the need for riot squads - although on this one, I hope I'm wide of the mark.

One lesson that did get learned on Saturday was that when Steven Gerrard fails to put in his usual claim for man of the match, Liverpool appear depressingly ordinary.

Granted they could have done without their Jerzy being ripped again, confirming my view that the only decent goalkeeper in the city is Nigel Martyn.

But laying all the blame on their splintered Pole is to ignore Liverpool's over-reliance on one man. On this occasion he was either hurt or exhausted, depending on your viewpoint.

You can't always be a superman, was John Aldridge's sympathetic verdict. Yet, without his inspirational input, team-mates struggle to impose themselves.

United have a similar problem when their main motivator, the veteran Roy Keane, rests his battered bones.

Keane, written off more times than Tony Blair, ran the show here.

Whether deep in defence or helping play Rooney into space for his match-winner, the Irishman showed why he strikes fear into less committed opponents.

As an encore, he took a pass from the spiky Paul Scholes and laced a dipping half-volley over the leaden Dudek and onto the Kop crossbar.

It would have been one of the goals of the month, easing United into comfy armchairs.

But they didn't need it. They were always comfortable, even when Wes Brown's second yellow reduced them to 10 men.

Mikael Silvestre simply got better, so did the outstanding Gabriel Heinze, making the absence of Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Alan Smith and Ruud van Nistelrooy an unimportant detail.

No wonder their manager looked so delighted when the battle was won.

Jamie Carragher - switched to right-back to accommodate the incoming Mauricio Pellegrino - threatened to have the last word with a drive that the otherwise unemployed Roy Carroll somehow blocked away, and the full-back also unfurled the pass of the match to free Gerrard for a fierce shot, a foot wide.

But anything but a victory - despite the brightness of Milan Baros - would have been hard on United,, who saw off the willing but wearying Fernando Morientes along the way.

The Spanish striker had previously scored in all of his debut games. But not here, although two headers and a nice touch around Wes Brown that ended in an over-anxious mis-hit, suggest that the centre-forward has a great deal to offer.

Something exceptional certainly needs to happen to lighten Liverpool's load, otherwise Rooney won't be the only oppositon striker celebrating an easy ride at Anfield.

I'm not to blame for defeat, insists Dudek

By David Prior - Daily Post Staff

Jerzy Dudek came out fighting after another crucial error against Manchester United on Saturday - insisting he had been "unlucky".

The Polish goalkeeper let Wayne Rooney's 21st-minute shot slip underneath his body and into the net to gift Sir Alex Ferguson's side victory at Anfield.

It was Liverpool's third straight home defeat to United - with all three games hinging on a Dudek mistake, Diego Forlan and Ryan Giggs having been the beneficiaries for the past two seasons.

But Dudek refused to accept that on this occasion he had been entirely at fault, insisting the ball had gone under, rather than through, his hands, and that it had been swerving.

The 31-year-old did, however, admit he "perhaps" should have saved Rooney's shot, and that he did have a good view of the former Everton teenager's speculative near-post effort.

Dudek said: "The ball was swerving a bit, and it was unlucky for me because it was his first shot on goal. I knew he was lining up the shot - I saw it all the way.. I had a good view of it, I don't know what happened, but I believed it moved at the end.

"It didn't go through my hands, it went under them. It was impossible to catch the ball, so I was concentrating on trying to parry it to the side. We know what Rooney's like when he's out on the pitch, we know he likes to have a shot at goal.

"When he gets in space and gets it on his right foot you know he's going to have a go. He has a powerful shot, he only had one shot today but that's all he needs.

"The ball was swerving a bit, and it was unlucky for me because it was his first shot on goal.

"The manager was watching me after that to see how I performed, and I think I did okay. I think I was very unlucky, and when you concede a goal like that you can say you had much more to do than you did.

"I think with a bit of luck, perhaps I should have kept it out. But the ball moved, and I couldn't do anything about that."

Dudek found support in the shape of manager Rafael Benitez, who refused to blame his stopper.

"Always with goalkeepers their mistakes are important, in this kind of game with big clubs it is more important," he said..

"But I do not like to look only at one situation, I prefer to look at everything and see how the team worked.

"I told Jerzy he played a good game with only one mistake. It is a pity but it is true."

Dudek insisted Liverpool could still have claimed something from the game after his slip-up.

Dudek added: "We played very well at the beginning but we couldn't get the same tempo after that. I knew that there was still plenty of time to bounce back. I had to stay on my toes and maintain my level of concentration. There was plenty of time to change the scoreline in our favour.

"The players' heads went down for a few seconds but we had a couple of chances after that and you have to forget about it because we are capable of playing good stuff as we showed in the second half.

"But the ball didn't bounce for us. We tried to press with a bit more urgency after the break and catch them cold.

"We have to keep it up - there are still 15 games to go, still a long way to go. It looks like we're playing better football, we have to keep going."

Mori handed Benitez backing


Rafael Benitez praised Fernando Morientes after his Liverpool debut and has tipped the Spanish ace for great things at Anfield.

The 6.3m hotshot had a baptism of fire in the crunch clash with Manchester United but showed some neat touches and was unlucky not to continue his remarkable record of scoring on his debut before being substituted 15 minutes from time.

Benitez told the club's website: "It was difficult in his first game but he never stopped trying.

"It was his first game and he needs to get fit. He said he was very tired when he came off but he knows now how he must play in the Premiership and will get better with more training."

Benitez must decide now whether to give Morientes another full game at Burnley in the FA Cup on Tuesday in a bid to boost his match fitness.

"He can give us a different aspect to our game, in the air and with good passing. He needs to get to know his team-mates and they need to get to know him," he said.

Fergie hails United win

By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his side's performance in the 1-0 win over Liverpool.

Wayne Rooney's first half goal, courtesy of a blunder by Jerzy Dudek, proved to be the difference between the two sides at Anfield.

Ferguson was delighted with his side's resilience.

"It was a great performance. It was a fantastic game, tense and competitive," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"The important thing was to keep our composure, pass the ball well and take the steam out of Liverpool.

"When we were down to 10 men it was a bit of an onslaught and we had to survive that - and we did."

Ferguson defended Rooney's celebrations after the goal with one fan being arrested for throwing a mobile phone at the England international.

"That's the end where he's scored the goal so that's where he is going to celebrate," added Ferguson.

"I don't think he has overdone it."

Ferguson believes they sent out a warning to their title rivals with the manner of the victory at Anfield.

"Arsenal have been here; Chelsea have been here - but I would have thought our performance would have been the best of the three."

Benitez refusing to blame Jerzy

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez is refusing to hold Jerzy Dudek responsible after his mistake gifted Manchester United the only goal of the game at Anfield.

The Liverpool manager says he hasn't had a chance to see the goal conceded by Dudek again but insisted he wasn't blaming the Pole for the defeat.

Benitez said: "It is a bad result and I am disappointed. I haven't seen the goal again on the television but when a goalkeeper makes a mistake it is highlighted. Mistakes happen though and more important is the performance of the team.

"We started better but once we lost a goal we lost our concentration and they controlled the midfield. We played better once they went down to 10 men and tried to play wide with Luis Garcia but they have experience and it's difficult.

"We had lots of corners and free-kicks but did nothing from them. The reason I took Morientes off is because he asked to because he was tired.

"I also thought there should have been more than four minutes of stoppage time played but I don't want to use that as an excuse for this defeat.

"We are still in the running for the Champions League places. Of course we are. We just need to start winning some more games."

Dudek hands United victory

By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports

Manchester United kept their title hopes alive with a deserved 1-0 win over lacklustre Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

Jerzy Dudek endured another nightmare against United for the third season in a row as he inexplicably let Wayne Rooney's shot past him for the only goal of the game.

United were forced to play the last 25 minutes with ten men after Wes Brown was sent off, but their lead was rarely threatened as they held on for three vital points.

Luis Garcia had the first noteworthy chance on three minutes as he got ahead of Gabriel Heinze to Fernando Morientes' flick on but he could not get his effort on target.

Four minutes later Sami Hyypia got a vital touch on Phil Neville's cross to deny Louis Saha a sight of goal after a neat move by United.

Garcia wasted a great opportunity a minute later when he broke from the halfway line, but instead of feeding the unmarked Morientes he dallied over the ball allowing Mikael Silvestre to get in a block.

Baros almost got through on 20 minutes when he burst past Silvestre to get into the box only for Heinze to clear the danger for a corner.

From the resulting corner Morientes climbed above Roy Keane to power a header down into the ground and straight at Roy Carroll.

United broke the deadlock against the run of play on 21 minutes when Rooney scored his first goal against Liverpool after a terrible blunder by Dudek.

Rooney was allowed to pick up the ball fully 30 yards from goal and fired in a shot which somehow squirmed through the hands of Dudek.

The goal left Liverpool shellshocked and Heinze missed a great opportunity two minutes later when he rose to head Darren Fletcher's corner onto the roof of the net.

United came within inches of doubling their lead on the half hour mark when Paul Scholes picked out Keane on the edge of the box and the Irishman took one touch before flashing a brilliant shot against the crossbar.

Liverpool tried to rally themselves before half time, with Neville deflecting Steven Gerrard's shot wide on 41 minutes.

Morientes had two chances before the break to open his account for his new employers when he firstly brilliantly took down Garcia's pass on the edge of the box before firing well wide and secondly he flashed a header wide from Garcia's cross under pressure from Neville.

Liverpool tried to raise the tempo at the start of the second half and Garcia signalled their intentions right after the restart with a drilled shot over the crossbar.

Riise almost got Morientes through on goal on 48 minutes with a clever pass, but Heinze got back to get in a vital last-ditch tackle.

United were dominating possession in midfield and they were happy to keep the ball away from Liverpool even though they failed to create any real chances despite their superiority.

United were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes when Wes Brown was sent off for his second bookable offence after a scything tackle on Riise.

Rooney picked up a booking on 72 minutes when he appeared to kick out at Garcia after being tackled by the Spaniard.

Substitute Igor Biscan had an effort on goal with his first touch on 80 minutes when he rose highest to meet fellow substitute Antonio Nunez's cross, but his header was comfortably collected by Carroll.

Liverpool huffed and puffed in a bid to get back into the game, and Garcia fired wide with an ambitious volley in the final minute.

Carragher almost drew Liverpool level in stoppage time when Gerrard rolled a free kick into his path on the edge of the box, but Carroll kept out his shot with his feet.

backbutton.gif (1697 bytes)

Thor Zakariassen