Monday, January 14, 2013

Hold Out: Manchester United 2 - Liverpool 1

photo by Dee'litevia PhotoRee

Manchester United held off Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, 2-1, in a tense match that lacked most of the nasty venom the series has recently showcased.  Here's how it went down:

Minutes 0-10: Both sides warming into the match, and putting lots of pressure on the ball. Neither side with a true chance in the opening ten.

Minutes 11-20: The pitch is beginning to open up a bit, with Liverpool appearing menacing on set pieces, and the home side offering quick passes and darting runs. Evra to Van Persie is as easy as it looks for the game's first goal on 19 minutes, with the Dutchman's one-touch finish absolutely devastating.

Minutes 21-30: United outworking their arch rivals at both ends of the pitch, buoyed by the opener. Ashley Young goes down in a heap after a collision with Daniel Agger but remains in the lineup, at least for now.

Minutes 31-40: Danny Welbeck's pace is giving the visitors fits, as Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley direct traffic in midfield. Liverpool work hard to get back in the match, and slowly begin to narrow the possession gap.

Minutes 41-45: Cleverley volleys just wide, and Liverpool survives  a backfooted scare from RVP. Controversially, Referee Howard Webb allows Liverpool's attacking  play to continue as Pepe Reina lays motionless after a collision with Shinji Kagawa, but blows the whistle as soon as the home side regain possession.

Minutes 45-55: Daniel Sturridge replaces Lucas Leiva and Antonio Valencia is brought on for the injured Young. Van Persie blazes over the bar from a set piece, and Martin Skrtl is fortunate he's shown only a yellow card when he hauls down Welbeck. His club is not quite as lucky, however, when both Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic nod in the day's second goal off the resulting free kick.

Minutes 56 - 65: Daniel Sturridge grabs one back for the visitors after David De Gea knocks the ball into the path of the Scousers' new striker on virtually their first attack of the afternoon. A red mist descends on Old Trafford, but it's a flair from the visitors' section and not Wayne Rooney's temper. Kagawa peppers Reina's hands but the resulting corner goes for naught.

Minutes 66 - 75: Suarez and Sturridge offer a new look for the United defenders to contemplate, as Liverpool begin to resemble a threat for the first time in the match. The United players appear to have switched off and Phil Jones is sent to the sideline to shake things up.

Minutes 76 - 85: Chris Smalling replaces the United Captain while Jordan Henderson comes in for Joe Allen on the opposite side. The home side looks directionless, but Sturridge is high after Suarez wriggles his way through the box, ball attached to his feet as if by magic.

Minutes 86-90: Fortune smiles on Glenn Johnson as Referee Webb conveniently overlooks his wrestling hold on Valencia. Liverpool continue their search for an equalizer while United seek only to hold out at home when four minutes are added onto regulation time. Reina saves a Van Persie backheel as the Dutchman emerges from momentary exile, and the Old Trafford crowd exhales as one when the referee blows the final whistle.

This is farlieonfootie for January 14.

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