23/03/2008 14:20, Report by Adam Bostock
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Report: United 3 Liverpool 0

A Portuguese one-two from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani plus a rare Wes Brown goal gave United the perfect Easter gift and destroyed any lingering hopes Liverpool had of breaking into the title race.

After all the pre-match talk of great attacking players on the park, it was ironic that defender Brown delivered the telling first blow on a pivotal afternoon in the Premier League. But the main talking point in the media could be the same one that followed last week’s match between Chelsea and Spurs - the relationship between referees and players.

For Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and ref Mike Riley, read Javier Mascherano and Steve Bennett - but don’t believe the hype that Liverpool’s midfield hardman lost the match as well as his temper. The storm that probably had teacups flying in the away dressing room couldn’t mask the fact United were as superior to Liverpool on the day as they have been this season. And last season, and the season before that…

Blessed with his usual embarrassment of riches in midfield, Sir Alex Ferguson opted for an effective central trio of Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Anderson. The young Brazilian fashioned the first chance when he fed the ball through to Wayne Rooney in the sixth minute. The United striker shrugged off the challenge of Jamie Carragher but couldn’t beat Pepe Reina, the Liverpool keeper who was alive to the threat and blocked.

The first yellow card was shown to Mascherano - compared by his manager to United legend Roy Keane - when the Argentinian scythed into Keano’s old sidekick Paul Scholes.

Liverpool’s first shot across United’s bows came from an unlikely source as left-back Aurelio blasted the ball beyond the top right-hand corner after a well-orchestrated short corner. The Brazilian enjoyed the better of his early encounters with his direct opponent Cristiano Ronaldo, skipping around one challenge from

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Premier League