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Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK

Liverpool throw victory away

Liverpool players look on in agony after another own-goal

Liverpool 2-3 Man Utd

A furious Liverpool revival from an opening half which included two own goals was not enough to save them from a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of 10-men Manchester United.

The BBC's Alan Green: "It seems a pivotal result in Liverpool's season"
Alex Ferguson's men had Andy Cole sent-off with 20 minutes to go and although Liverpool had clawed a goal back they held out to stay top of the Premiership.

The game was fought at a breakneck tempo as Man United sought to continue their unbeaten run and Liverpool sought to build on victories over Arsenal and Leeds.

But Liverpool's early performance resembled more the side which slumped to a shock defeat at the hands of lowly Watford early in the season.

Bad start

Horrendous defending handed Alex Ferguson's men a two goal lead within 25 minutes.

Alex Ferguson speaks to the BBC's Tony Gubba: "We could have been five or six up at half-time"
Jamie Carragher scored an unstoppable own goal when he tried to defend a fiercely hit curling Ryan Giggs cross but his header flew past Dutch keeper Sander Westerveld.

The goal did not just unsettle Carragher, who could hardly put a foot right, but every one of Gerard Houllier's men.

With quarter of an hour gone Alex Ferguson's side increased their lead after yet another defensive error by Liverpool.

Penalty box pandemonium

England Under 21 international Steven Gerrard fouled David Beckham on the right flank and he hit one of those high, curling free-kicks which have become his trademark.

It should have been dealt with routinely by Liverpool's back-four but instead Andy Cole rose unchallenged between Song and Dominic Matteo to head past the defenceless Westerveld.

That should have been it for a shell-shocked Liverpool.

But Man United's new £4.5m keeper Massimo Taibi, making his debut, handed them a lifeline after 23 minutes.

Liverpool lifeline

He tried to claim an innocuous free-kick from Jamie Redknapp - back from injury - but missed by a mile to leave Finn Sami Hyypia with an easy header into an open net.

Liverpool failed to capitalise on the break and were 3-1 behind by the interval, although they should have had a penalty when Nicky Butt blatantly handled a corner.

The third goal came on the stroke of half-time when a replica Beckham free-kick wreaked havoc in the Liverpool box and a hapless Carragher stumbled into the melee to turn in his second own-goal - and the fifteenth of the Premiership this season.

All change

Houllier had re-shuffled at half-time, bringing Czech international Vladimir Smicer in for midfielder David Thompson in a bid to get back in the game.

It worked and both Smicer and Fowler should have scored but the redeemed Taibi saved from point-blank range. He was later voted man-of-the-match.

Those misses forced Houllier to make yet more changes - Gerrard making way for the pacy Vegard Heggem and Michael Owen replacing Titi Camara up front and with 25 minutes to rescue Liverpool.

Within five minutes they had clawed one back when Berger raced onto a Dominic Matteo through ball and under-pressure still managed to slide the ball home.

Heated exchange

Anfield erupted - and when Cole was dismissed for a second yellow card when he lashed out at Song - the tempo increased further still.

Owen had a chance to find the precious equaliser on 79 minutes when was quickest to react to a deflection but his toe-poke trickled agonisingly into the side netting.


Liverpool: Westerveld, Song, Hyypia, Matteo, Carragher, Redknapp, Berger, Thompson, Gerrard, Camara, Fowler.
Subs: Staunton, Smicer, Owen, Heggem, Friedel.

Man Utd: Taibi, Neville, Stam, Berg, Silvestre, Giggs, Butt, Scholes, Beckham, Cole, Yorke.
Subs: Sheringham, Van Der Gouw, Solskjaer, Clegg, Wallwork.

Scorers: Man Utd: Carragher (og 3, 44) Cole (18),
Liverpool: Hyypia (23), Berger (68)
Bookings: Cole (24, 73 - dismissed), Camara (55), Neville (55), Song (73), Beckham (85), Redknapp (85) Referee: Graham Barber (Tring)

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