After our match report, we take a closer look at the 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool...
The match Some feisty early challenges from United players set the tone but Liverpool soon took a strangehold on the game, with Daniel Sturridge flashing wide and Joe Allen firing straight at David De Gea. It was no surprise when Steven Gerrard put the visitors ahead from the spot, while United’s only chance of note in the first half came when Simon Mignolet kept out a Wayne Rooney shot. Gerrard’s second spot-kick early in the second period was a real body blow and, though United increased the tempo thereafter, there were still precious few chances to shout about. Marouane Fellaini blasted over and Robin van Persie headed wide but Nemanja Vidic’s fourth red card against Liverpool, a second yellow for bringing down Sturridge in the box, effectively ended the game as a contest. And though Gerrard struck the post with his third penalty, Luis Suarez soon made it three to complete a miserable afternoon for United.
The goals Referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick after Suarez’s attempted dink past Rafael in the box hit the Brazilian’s hand; Gerrard stepped up and calmly sent De Gea the wrong way. After Phil Jones clumsily felled Allen, the Liverpool skipper went the same way for his second penalty – to De Gea’s left. And though the Spaniard guessed correctly, he couldn’t keep it out. The Merseysiders’ third came when a scuffed Sturridge shot found its way through United’s defence to Suarez, who neatly slotted past De Gea.
Star man United collectively hustled and bustled but did not have enough to break down the Merseysiders, and Rafael typified that. He flew into challenges, including one on Gerrard that earned him a booking by the corner flag, and tested full-back Jon Flanagan regularly down the right, but Liverpool held firm.
Sub-plot For the first time in years, Liverpool came to Old Trafford as favourites in many observers’ eyes – and, if truth be told, they played like it. Though the Olympiacos game is looming, David Moyes picked a strong team to combat the visitors’ threat but United ultimately couldn't break them down, nor defended stoutly enough to keep the league’s top scorers at bay.