Sunday, March 22, 2015 4:38 pm
Manchester United came out 2-1 winners over Liverpool in a feisty encounter at Anfield which saw Juan Mata score twice, Steven Gerrard get sent off inside a minute of coming on and Wayne Rooney miss a late penalty.
There was also a clash between the two teams after Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel stepped on Man. United goalkeeper David De Gea’s leg late on while Mario Balotelli was held back by supporters following a clash with United defender Chris Smalling minutes before.
On the field, Falcao and Angel di Maria were left out of the United starting line-up again while Steven Gerrard was left on the bench as well for Liverpool.
The Red Devils started the match strong and duly took the lead after 14 minutes when Mata met a defence-splitting through pass from Ander Herrera and slotted a low strike past Simon Mignolet.
Daniel Sturridge got a volley fly meters off target moments later but the match’s momentum was back behind United afterwards, with Michael Carrick flicking an effort over and Rooney seeing a shot blocked.
Liverpool did get a sniff of goal though 10 minutes before the break and should have levelled when Jordan Henderson found Daniel Sturridge, who pulled back for Adam Lallana.
The former Southampton winger, anonymous in the match before then, however fired his first-time shot just wide of the bottom right with De Gea rooted to a spot.
Carrick forced a save from Mignolet on the stroke of half-time as the Red Devils went into the break on top. And the visitors saw their fortune added to just seconds into the second period in dramatic fashion.
Liverpool captain Gerrard came on for Lallana at half-time for one final appearance in the iconic fixture, but it was to be a cameo as he received a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson.
The MLS-bound midfielder went in hard on Mata before stamping on the leg of Herrera right after, leaving Atkinson no choice but to send off Gerrard.
The man advantage did not tell immediately, with Philippe Coutinho shooting just over moments after, but it was United that got the next goal of the match and in spectacular fashion.
Substitute Angel di Maria sent a lobbed pass to Mata and with the ball coming in a bit off his stride, the Spanish attacking midfielder still managed to fire in a scissor-kicked volley to double United’s lead on the hour mark.
Liverpool responded by getting back in the game 10 minutes later through Sturridge who ran on to a slightly deflected Coutinho pass to fire in at the near post.
Balotelli was then saved from a possible sending off by Liverpool fans who held him back as he was about to confront Smalling while Mignolet saved a Rooney penalty in the 90th minute before the match ended sour in a confrontation between players of both teams after Skrtel’s challenge on De Gea.
The result sees United open a five-point gap in fourth place and go within a point of third placed Arsenal as the race to finish in the top four remains close with eight matches to go in the season.