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Wednesday, May 5, 1999 Published at 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK


Old-boy Ince robs United

Liverpool's Steve McManaman holds off Paul Scholes

Liverpool 2-2 Man Utd

Paul Ince delivered a devastating blow to his old club Manchester United, with a late equaliser for Liverpool as the championship pendulum swung back towards Highbury.


Alex Ferguson:"It could go down to goal difference"
United had looked in control after Dwight Yorke's header and a Dennis Irwin penalty had put them two goals up.

However their bitter rivals Liverpool were awarded a dubious spot-kick mid-way through the second half which Jamie Redknapp coolly slotted home.

And as the game came to a tense conclusion, Ince was on hand to grab the late winner which leaves United three points off the pace in the hunt for the Championship.

Whirlwind derby

The tackles were flying in right from the off in this whirlwind derby as both sides battled to assert their authority in a fixture which meant as much in pride as it did in points.


[ image:  ]
Liverpool won the early rounds and Oyvind Leonhardsen found himself clear down the left after eight minutes but his cross was blocked by Jaap Stam.

Rigobert Song showed some good touches down the right and delivered a telling ball into the box but it was just too high for Steve McManaman, who was playing his penultimate game for Liverpool at Anfield.

Liverpool were playing some enterprising football but Gary Neville finished off a swift counter attack from Manchester United with a blazing shot which careered wide of the post.

Ronny Johnsen made a rare error in the United rearguard with a lacklustre headed back pass but Schmeichel used all his experience to gather the ball with Karl-Heinz Riedle following up.

United then turned the game around with a devastating attack straight out of their treasure chest with Beckham the accomplice and Yorke the assassin.

Beckham exchanged a number of passes with fellow fledgling Gary Neville before he swept in an inviting cross which Yorke nodded home with the simplest of headers for his 17th league goal of the season.

Lacked cutting-edge

Liverpool replied immediately with a Staunton corner which had Schmeichel flapping and a Dominic Matteo cross but Gerard Houllier's side lacked the cutting edge of their deadly rivals.

Ince let fly from 35 yards after some good build-up play from McManaman but his shot seared wide of the post, much to the delight of the travelling United fans- how they would pay in the closing moments.

As the second half began Matteo, who was revelling in his role down the left, surged down the wing on one of his marauding runs and pulled it back for Ince who got a cruel bounce and lashed the ball over the bar.

Jesper Blomqvist broke into the box and was kicked in the chest after a high challenge from Jamie Carragher, who was more than punished for his sins.

The referee pointed to the spot without hesitation and Dennis Irwin stroked the penalty home with a right-foot shot which Brad Friedel was unlucky not to get a hand to.

Patrick Berger, who came on as a second half substitute to spice up the Liverpool attack, created an opening for himself on 67 minutes but his well-struck shot curled agonisingly wide of the bar.

Controversial penalty

The referee then issued a controversial penalty to Liverpool after Leonhardson went down under a Blomqvist challenge and Jamie Redknapp smashed home the resulting penalty sending Schmeichel the wrong way with a low but powerful drive.

Liverpool had their chances as the game reached its conclusion and McManaman, Ince and Riedle should have done better with late efforts.

The home side were thrown a lifeline after 76 minutes when Dennis Irwin was sent-off for his second bookable offence - which means he will miss the FA Cup final- and Ince delivered his party pooper to rock United's Premiership challenge after 88 minutes allowing Arsenal to pull three points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Teams:

Liverpool: Friedel, Song, Staunton, Babb, McManaman, Leonhardsen, Redknapp, Riedle, Ince, Matteo, Carragher. Subs: James, Berger, Ferri, Bjornebye, Thompson.

Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Johnsen, Stam, Beckham, Cole, Blomqvist, Keane, Scholes, Yorke. Subs: May, Butt, Sheringham, P. Neville, Van Der Gouw.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow on the Hill)



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