Thursday, September 24, 1998 Published at 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
Irwin and Scholes seal United win
Paul Ince and Jaap Stam go face-to-face in a tough contest
Manchester United 2-0 Liverpool
Manchester United shrugged off their Highbury trauma to score a goal in each half and wrap up victory in a typically fierce clash between two of the giants of the English game.
United, humiliated 3-0 at Arsenal on Sunday, were desperate for a win over their arch rivals to keep up with the early Premiership pacesetters.
It was a frustrating night for Liverpool, following on from their disappointing 3-3 home draw with Charlton. They dominated long periods of the second half at Old Trafford but failed to make the most of their possession.
Eight players - four from either side - were booked as tempers frequently became frayed.
Both sides made changes following their weekend setbacks.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes replaced Jesper Blomqvist, Henning Berg and Nicky Butt in the United line-up and Andy Cole returned to the bench.
Liverpool striker Karlheinz Riedle, fit again after a groin injury, came in for Robbie Fowler and Vegard Heggem and Steve Staunton made way for Jason McAteer and Stig-Inge Bjornebye.
Owen finds no way through
United were well on top in a scrappy first half, in which six players had their names taken, as centre backs Gary Neville and Jaap Stam snuffed out the considerable threat of Michael Owen.
Referee Steve Lodge waved away Liverpool protests and pointed to the spot. Irwin then kept his cool to place the penalty into the right-hand corner of the net.
Liverpool fought back and Peter Schmeichel was forced first to tip Jamie Redknapp's 25-yard freekick away for a corner and then parry a deflected Paul Ince effort in the last minute of the first half.
Escape for Schmeichel
Liverpool continued in the same vein after the break and Patrick Berger should have done better in the 53rd minute when he put a tame shot straight at Schmeichel from ten yards out.
Schmeichel was grateful to the referee's assistant 15 minutes later when his handling howler went unpunished.
Berger hit another shot straight at the Danish keeper, but he failed to hold a routine effort and Riedle followed up to convert from close range.
Fortunately for Schmeichel, Riedle had just strayed offside.
Hot Cole clinches victory
At this stage United were in danger of losing their grip on the game - but the introduction of Cole for Solskjaer gave them an extra dimension and ultimately helped secure victory.
After 72 minutes Friedel had to race out of his goal to deny Cole with a sliding tackle after Beckham had played the striker through.
A Liverpool attack broke down and Cole picked the ball up on the half-way line, charged down the left flank and fired a low cross into the box.
A lunging Dwight Yorke failed to make contact with the ball, but it fell instead for Scholes, who slammed a perfect left-foot shot into the top corner of the goal.
Liverpool were now demoralised and out of the contest - and there was still time for Scholes and Cole to both slice clear chances well wide as United coasted the remaining minutes.
Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Beckham, Giggs, P. Neville, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Solskjaer. Subs: Cole, Blomqvist, Van Der Gouw, Butt, Berg.
Liverpool: Friedel, McAteer, Babb, McManaman, Owen, Redknapp, Riedle, Berger, Ince, Bjornebye, Carragher. Subs: James, Fowler, Heggem, Matteo, Leonhardsen.
Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)