Giggs was caught in possession by Shelvey, who sprinted into a 50-50 challenge with Evans. Both players left the ground, Evans reached the ball first and Shelvey crunched into him. Referee Mark Halsey took his time, assessed the situation and dismissed the Liverpool midfielder.
Nevertheless, it was Liverpool who continued to boss matters, as Suarez’s 30-yard free-kick forced Lindegaard into a full-length save. The interval provided a chance for United to get their collective house in order, but despite the introduction of Paul Scholes for Nani, any half-time instructions apparently fell on deaf ears.
Another half-time substitute, Suso, crossed from the left and United failed to clear the danger sufficiently, allowing Johnson’s shot to deflect to Gerrard, who had time and space to chest the ball under control and direct a left-footed volley past the sprawling Lindegaard.
As has often been the case already this season, a deficit provided the spark for United to burst into life. There was suddenly more intent and incision about the visitors, and under five minutes had passed before the scoreline was levelled in sensational fashion.
Valencia crossed from the right and Kagawa chested the ball neatly down to Rafael. The Brazilian cut inside on his left foot and, despite having little room for manoeuvre, curled an unstoppable shot high into Reina’s goal, via the Spaniard’s upright.
Anfield’s away section bellowed its delight, but the expected surge of attacking play from United was instead replaced by a game which remained hard-fought and finely poised. Suarez – fresh from having a viable penalty appeal turned down – drew a fine stop from Lindegaard with an arrowed left-footed effort. The Dane then tipped over Suso’s side-footed effort as Liverpool continued to threaten.