Liverpool finally got the victory deserved as they came from behind to take all three points from today’s first clash.
Liverpool have been woeful this season despite still picking up the points – with Gerrard and Torres only making the bench – Liverpool fans had reason to be fearful.
Four minutes in, these thoughts became reality, when Liverpool failed to defend properly and Tevez scored from a Berbatov cut-back.
But Liverpool, even without Torres and Gerrard, turned the match around (and their performances so far this season) and the pressure told when a cross came in that Van der Saar came to collect. Riera, who had a fantastic debut, put pressure on the keeper who could only parry to Wes Brown who scored an own goal.
Liverpool continued to push, and as the second half began Liverpool were the only team looking to win the game. Riera continued to trick his way past the United defence with Kuyt and Keane guilty of wasting chances.
Eventually Gerrard arrived, although his first contribution was to nearly hand a goal to United after a clumsy back-pass. Minutes later Ryan Babel, the reds new supersub arrived on to replace Riera, and as Liverpool pressure continued eventually United cracked. Kuyt snapped the ball away from Ryan Giggs and passed to Babel who applied the finish.
Liverpool should have had a third, with United receiving a couple of yellow cards when Liverpool players were nearly clear through on goal. It was only a matter of time before somebody got a second yellow, and Vidic was the recipient after clattering Alonso to the ground.
Rafa Benitez gets his first league win against United, despite many deserved attempts in the past.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Riera (Babel 72), Mascherano (Hyypia 87), Alonso, Benayoun (Gerrard 68), Kuyt, Keane
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, N’Gog, Torres
Goals: own goal (26), Babel (77)
Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young (Milner 64), Laursen, Davies, Shorey (Gardner 79), Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Knight, Salifou, Routledge.
Goals: Tevez (4)