A first minute Ryan Giggs penalty ensured Man Utd progressed in the FA Cup against 10 man Liverpool’s expense at Old Trafford.
Kenny Dalglish’s first game in charge showed some promising signs and a much more determined looking team than recent weeks, albeit with the new manager only having spent a short while with the players.
Dalglish arrived late last night from his overseas holiday to take up his second tenure as Liverpool FC boss – an interim appointment until the summer.
The uninspiring 4-4-2 was removed and replaced by a more similar approach to that of recent years, with Gerrard and Meireles allowed more creative freedom in the centre, and Lucas behind the pair of them.
Liverpool looked stronger in the centre of the park than they have in recent months.
Alas, the game got off to a bad start when Daniel Agger’s challenge was met with a dive from Dimitar Berbatov. The assistant referee was clearly unimpressed, but Howard Webb 25 yards away decided a penalty was what United deserved. Ryan Giggs placed the ball well in to the corner, although Reina guessed correctly, to put United 1 up.
Liverpool continued to dominate much of the possession, although chances for either side were limited.
On the half hour, Gerrard was sent off for a two footed challenge, some may say harshly. More to the point was the inconsistency as moments earlier Rafael had attempted to burst the ball with a two footed jump.
Despite the sending off the reds equipped themselves well for the next 60 minutes, and a late arrival probably wouldn’t have known which side were playing with the disadvantage.
Martin Kelly had an assured game at right back, nullifying Giggs for most of the game – forcing United to explore options on the left – from which they got a little more joy against Fabio Aurelio.
Dalglish made a sensible double substitution early in the second half, removing a fading Rodriguez and Meireles, who had a poor game littered with over-exhuberant passes to nobody in particular.
In the 75th minute Torres was removed after spending most of the game chasing down defenders.
Liverpool had chances to score a dramatic equaliser. An Aurelio free-kick was saved in the top corner being one of them.
Gerrard will now miss the first three Premier League games of Dalglish’s reign, which include next weekend’s visit from Everton, Kenny’s first Anfield game.
The reds look ahead to Blackpool in mid-week.
The result was not the one we hoped for, but given the botched job we made with 11 men at Old Trafford earlier this season – there were several promising signs, both tactically and in application.