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Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Liverpool ease past Man Utd
Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United
Liverpool recorded their first double over Manchester United for 22 years to stop Sir Alex Ferguson's title bandwagon in its tracks at Anfield.
Gerard Houllier's side confirmed their growing authority and threat to Manchester United's supremacy with an emphatic victory.
Liverpool established the platform that enabled them to build on their victory at Old Trafford earlier this season with spectacular first half strikes from England pair Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler.
Gerrard's thunderous long-range goal was another outstanding strike from a midfield man who is fast becoming the most exciting player of Sven Goran Eriksson's young England generation.
Liverpool even survived the second half sending off of Danny Murphy to secure a thoroughly deserved victory.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will have been unhappy with his side's lack-lustre display - but will seek solace in another guaranteed title success that has surely only been delayed.
And he will now turn his sights to Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford.
And this was the perfect start for an emerging side who show all the signs of mounting a major challenge to United next season, and have stepped up their chase for a Champions League place next season.
Liverpool boss Houllier sprang a selection surprise by resting England goal hero Michael Owen, preferring a front line combination of Fowler and Emile Heskey.
He also gave Patrik Berger his first game since November following knee surgery.
United counterpart Ferguson rested England pair Paul Scholes and Andy Cole, and suffered a late blow when Jaap Stam was ruled out through illness.
Liverpool's superiority by the end of the first half was complete - in sharp contrast to a fiercely fought opening period.
Fowler posted the warning signals to United inside two minutes with a 25-yard drive that brought a fingertip save out of Fabien Barthez.
And United responded with a header from Dwight Yorke that was deflected only inches over via a deflection from Sami Hyypia.
Liverpool rocked United with a goal of stunning quality from Gerrard in the 16th minute.
The gifted England youngster picked up the ball in central midfield before firing a fierce drive into Bathez's top right hand corner from more than 30 yards.
It was a goal that lifted Liverpool and dented United's confidence - and the rest of the half was an almost unbroken tale of domination for Houllier's side.
Liverpool had a clear penalty rejected on the half hour when Gary Neville handled Murphy's header, but referee Graham Poll was unsighted and waved away the appeals.
United could not gather any attacking momentum, and Liverpool got the reward their scintillating play deserved with a second goal five minuted before half time.
Gerrard turned creator to find Fowler inside the penalty area, and he controlled instantly before striking an emphatic left foot finish high past Barthez.
Liverpool should have effectively ended the contest on half time when another glorious pass from Gerrard found Heskey unmarked eight yards out.
Barthez saved well at his near post - but Heskey should have done better from such a clear-cut opportunity.
It would have been a harrowing half for Ferguson, who watched stone-faced from the Anfield directors' box as Liverpool were first to every loose ball and were dominant in all parts of the pitch.
United saw a potential lifeline snatched away from them after 66 minutes when Yorke slid home Phil Neville's cross from close range only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Liverpool suffered a setback three minutes later when Murphy, who had been booked for a first half foul on Nicky Butt, was deservedly shown the red card for a needless challenge on Denis Irwin.
Ferguson followed suit shortly, sending on Luke Chadwick and Mikael Silvestre for Irwin and Teddy Sheringham.
Heskey almost wrapped things up for Liverpool with ten minutes to go when Wes Brown found himself isolated against the powerful England striker, who struck the upright from 20 yards.
Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld was well protected by the nine men in front of him after Murphy was sent off, but the Dutchman produced an excellent save from Yorke as time ticked away.
And nothing was to deny Liverpool a win that was well-merited.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Carragher, Hyypia, Henchoz, Murphy, Gerrard, Hamann, Berger, Heskey, Fowler. Subs: Arphexad, Barmby, Owen, Litmanen, Traore.
Man Utd: Barthez, Phil Neville, Irwin, Gary Neville, Brown, Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs, Sheringham, Yorke. Subs: Goram, Silvestre, Scholes, Fortune, Chadwick.
Referee: G Poll (Tring)
31 Mar 01 | Photo Galleries
Liverpool v Man Utd
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