Sunday, 14 December 2014

United Triumph Over Rueful Reds

After a heartbreaking exit from the Champions League on Tuesday night, Liverpool made the trip to face fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Reds face a tough week with the League Cup tie against Bournemouth on Wednesday followed by a home game against Arsenal on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers made a few changes from midweek but the most staggering was the choice to start Brad Jones in goal at the expense of the struggling Simon Mignolet in a gamble that could have serious repercussions should the week end badly.

Liverpool made the better start and could have gone ahead in the 12th minute when Adam Lallana picked out Raheem Sterling in a good position. the young winger advanced on goal but could only hit a tame shot which David De Gea blocked well. United countered superbly with Antonio Valencia carving through the Liverpool defence before squaring to Wayne Rooney who fired past a helpless Brad Jones who dived the wrong way as the home side took the lead.

De Gea denied Liverpool from drawing level in the 18th minut with a good save from Steven Gerrard's effort from the edge of the area, Alberto Moreno found Sterling in the box minutes later but sadly his effort was denied by a close range save from De Gea. Liverpool seemed to be the better of the two sides in attack but went further behind just five minutes before the interval.

Ashley Young swept in a dangerous cross which took a slight touch off the head of Robin van Persie before finding Juan Mata who had ghosted in at the back post to head past Jones which was cruel for Liverpool as replays showed the midfielder had been clearly offside.

Liverpool's problems seemed to be a lack of potency when in on goal and this continued into the second half as Raheem Sterling's cross found Jordan Henderson whose header went over the target and even when a horror back pass from the United defence put Sterling in on goal, the young winger wasted the one-on-one with De Gea who claimed the ball.

United could have been 3-0 up in the 64th minute when Antonio Valencia arrowed a cross into the box which resulted in a heart in mouth moment for the Liverpool defence as Robin van Persie's shot crept past the post.

Liverpool's frustration in front of goal reached new heights when a nice move from Raheem Sterling saw him pick out Mario Balotelli who rifled a shot at goal only to see it tipped onto the crossbar by a fine save from De Gea. The stop from the United 'keeper proved to be decisive as four minutes later United wrapped up the points with a third goal.

Wayne Rooney broke down the left and swept in a cross which was poorly cleared by Dejan Lovren right into the path of Juan Mata who found Robin Van Persie superbly with the Dutchman firing past a helpless Brad Jones.

Liverpool continued to push for a goal even if in consolation but were again denied by De Gea who saved twice from Balotelli as the game ticked into the final five minutes, Brad Jones prevented a fourth goal for United when he performed a superb tipping save over the bar from a powerful effort from Robin van Persie.

Despite the 3-0 win, it was the United' keeper who was awarded man of the match for a superb performance that saw his side triumph with half as many shots on target as the visitors who now move on to a crucial cup tie away to Championship high-fliers Bournemouth.