Kuyt (34), (39), (65)
Manchester United 1
No doubt many reports will look at this comprehensive victory, our third successive against the Mancs at Anfield, in terms of the destiny of the title? However, to Liverpool fans that is an irrelevance.
Yes sure we will take pleasure from the fact that this makes it harder for the Mancs to beat our record and secure a nineteenth title but surely of more importance is what this result says about the second coming of Kenny Dalglish?
It’s been coming, improved morale, better play, better results. Sure there has been the odd set back, such as West Ham last week, which serves to remind everyone of the large task facing Dalglish. However, yesterday was a statement, a marker placed in the sand to the club’s owners and anyone else who perhaps was somewhat tentative about the Dalglish effect. Doubt him no more, the fans were always behind him and the players through this great win and before have demonstrated that they are. He has breathed life into this ailing giant, his mark is now all over the club just as it was twenty years ago and it is for the good. Surely it is now time for the owners to reward and support him on a more long term basis?
There were a few changes from West Ham. Aurelio replaced Kelly as we reverted to four at the back, Wilson made way and Maxi increased the midfield to four. Kuyt started up front with Suarez playing off him. Andy Carroll, perhaps not match fit, started on the bench.
The first fifteen minutes few by. The first move of note saw Suarez trying to get on the end of Meireles’ cross. He just about managed it but not enough to give Van der Sar any trouble. Both reds were at it again with Meireles heading Suarez’s cross back across the area were Dirk Kuyt just failed to make contact. As if to remind us that we shouldn’t get too complacent Berbatov hit our post. However, it was good beginning we looked up for it played at a good tempo, had good movement and passed the ball around neatly. It deserved a goal and on thirty four minutes it came.
Suarez picked put the ball on the left hand side of the area. What followed was simply magic and demonstrated why we paid so much him and why the Uruguayan is such an exciting prospect. Through a series of twists and turns and some exquisite close control Suarez took out Rafael, Carrick and Brown he then prodded it between Evra and Van der Sar along the goal line to give Kuyt the easiest of tap ins.
Kuyt got the goal, his first against The Mancs, but despite that even he would surely concede that Suarez deserved the praise? It was sublime piece of skill befitting of the Liverpool number 7 shirt, which was shortly to be followed by a move that was, quite frankly, ridiculous. Suarez was involved again crossing a harmless ball which wasn’t going to a red shirt. However, Nani in trying to execute what should have been a routine clearance somehow contrived to head the ball back across the box over his defenders straight to Kuyt, lurking five yards out, thank you very much Mancs and 2-0.
Perhaps Nani was blinded and/or disorientated by the bright sun? However any frustration he may have harboured about his part in the goal certainly wouldn’t have been soothed by Carragher’s atrocious tackle. The challenge, high and just below the knee, was worthy of a sending off. Nani was lucky not break his leg however, he was fit enough to get up and remonstrate with the referee before remembering he was injured and crumbling to the ground again. A stretcher was bought on for him presumably because, after the second goal, no one was confident he would be able to find his way off the pitch!
Soon after, as is often the case, it all kicked off again. This time it was Rafael on Lucas which led to another skirmish with Skrtel to the fore. In fairness the Mancs player had been studded on the thigh by Maxi immediately before that, another potential red card challenge which went unnoticed and unpunished? Thankfully Phil Dowd, perhaps mindful of the occasion brandished yellow again. This was a welcome contrast to the kneejerk reaction from Howard Webb we saw in the FA Cup match at Old Trafford that saw Gerrard sent off nonetheless it was a couple of incidents that did neither of the sides any favours least of all us as we, at 2-0 up, and didn’t need to get involved in this way.
The second half opened with end to end stuff Meireles set up Gerrard but Van der Sar bravely took it off his toe. At the other end Hernandez went close from a Berbatov cross. Giggs then crashed one just over the bar from a Rooney pass. Just on the hour Berbatov felt he should have had a goal incorrectly thinking the ball had crossed the line before Meireles’ cleared it. However, his protest was more borne out of frustration that he should have done better with the header.
Meireles then had a shot spilled by Van der Sar but there was no red shirt following up. With his two goals from barely yards out this would have been right up Kuyt’s street however, he didn’t have to wait long for another poaching opportunity. Suarez’s free kick was spilled by Van der Sar and Kuyt was there again to secure his first Liverpool hat trick. Three goals and three was almost the total number of “yards out” from which all the goals were scored. Kuyt must have thought Christmas had come early, never will the Mancs be so generous again?
With the game safe Kenny bought on Andy Carroll for the final twenty minutes he didn’t really do much and, in a way, I was glad he didn’t as it would have taken things away from the undervalued and underappreciated Kuyt. Gerrard twice fired just wide from distance with Van der Sar nowhere on each occasion. Before that Suarez weaved his way through however the goal he deserved didn’t materialise as he punted into the Kop. Henrnadez headed a consolation goal but that was all it was.
Despite the Mancs goal it was all to easy it was a thoroughly deserved win. We took the game to the Mancs rotated positions kept them guessing and never let the pace flag. It was versatile, well coordinated and highly effective demonstration of forward play and a marked contrast to the rather formulaic, rigid system we saw earlier in the season.
Towards the end a relaxed Kop ended up singing “Happy Birthday” to Kenny. The Mancs fans, ever our equal when it comes rapier like wit, responded with “Merseyside is full of sh*t”. Not ever and even if it was certainly not yesterday afternoon!
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Kyrgiakos 24), Gerrard, Lucas, Kuyt, Meireles (Carroll 74), Maxi, Suarez (Cole 89). Subs: Gulacsi, Carroll, Cole, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Spearing, Poulsen.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael (O’Shea 76), Da Silva, Smalling, Brown, Evra, Nani (Hernandez 45), Carrick, Scholes (Fletcher 83), Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, O’Shea, Fletcher, Obertan, Gibson.