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Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Liverpool   2 - 0   Man Utd

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Anfield

Fernando Torres celebrates scoring against Liverpool
Torres had few openings but took his chance with a superb finish

Liverpool ended their worst sequence of results since 1987 and eased the pressure on manager Rafael Benitez in the most satisfying manner possible as Manchester United were deservedly beaten at Anfield.

Fernando Torres demonstrated his world class with a 65th-minute opener, comfortably shrugging off the attentions of Rio Ferdinand before powering an unstoppable finish high past United keeper Edwin van der Sar at The Kop end.

And after United's Nemanja Vidic was sent off for the third successive time against Liverpool and Javier Mascherano also saw red in a thunderous finale, substitute David Ngog raced on to Lucas's pass to wrap up a fully-merited victory.

Anfield was awash with ecstasy as goalkeeper Pepe Reina rushed the length of the field to join the celebrations with Ngog - a sign of what was riding on this result for Liverpool and manager Benitez.

Benitez delighted with victory

Reds boss Benitez entered this crucial game with spirits lifted after managing director Christian Purslow added his weight to co-owner George Gillett's message that his future is not under threat.

But it was the commitment and energy shown by Liverpool in the face of four successive defeats that was always going to be the most realistic measure of the current circumstances surrounding Benitez.

And Liverpool delivered in emphatic fashion, backed by fervent Anfield supporters who recognised Benitez had reached a pivotal point in his five-year reign.

Liverpool held sway for most of a match that only occasionally touched the heights, but the workload of the respective keepers confirmed this was a victory well-earned by Benitez's side - and which now leaves them only four points behind the Premier League champions.

FOOTBALL BLOG
Phil McNulty

United mounted a late rally of sorts but Ngog's late goal gave the scoreline a more realistic appearance.

And watching it all after a late cameo as substitute was Michael Owen, returning to Anfield for the first time since joining United and being subjected to a venomous reaction from Liverpool's fans.

Owen was involved in the late drama as he was fouled by Jamie Carragher with United trailing 1-0 and boss Sir Alex Ferguson felt the Reds defender should have been shown a red card rather than yellow.

It was perhaps the stroke of luck Liverpool have been missing recently.

Events on the pitch, as ever, will ultimately dictate Benitez's fate and United fans arrived at Anfield in the mood to revel in Liverpool's current misfortune.

Phelan disappointed with result

Eric Cantona masks and a succession of banners served as a reminder that they now equal Liverpool's total of 18 league titles - with beach balls thrown on to the Anfield turf to mock the manner of Liverpool's defeat at Sunderland.

The Kop rallied behind Liverpool, who as expected were without injured captain Steven Gerrard, and they responded with an energetic first-half performance in which United keeper Van der Sar was fully extended.

Van der Sar leapt brilliantly to claw out Aurelio's free-kick in the 14th minute after Patrice Evra had been booked for his third foul in quick succession - even recovering to keep out Kuyt's effort from the rebound.

Kuyt was guilty of missing Liverpool's best chance of a frantic opening three minutes later when he failed to hit the target from the angle after he was released by Lucas.

Valencia's pace was posing real problems for Liverpool left-back Emiliano Insua, and he was the provider with a cross that saw Wayne Rooney's header clutched by Reina in front of an anxious Kop.

Liverpool were rising to the challenge of ending their recently dismal sequence, and Aurelio should have given them the lead 10 minutes before half-time, heading straight at Van der Sar from Yossi Benayoun's cross.

Pepe Reina celebrates with goalscorer David Ngog
Reina sprinted across Anfield to celebrate with Ngog

Benitez's side started well again after the break and Kuyt, his confidence perhaps sapped by earlier failures in front of goal, tried to set up Benayoun when the Netherlands striker would have been better served trying to test Van der Sar.

The goal Liverpool craved eventually came - and from a predictable source as Torres showed searing pace and clinical finishing to shrug off the attentions of Ferdinand before lashing a finish high past Van der Sar at The Kop end.

It was the signal for former Liverpool striker Owen to warm up, and he was subjected to a torrid reception and cries of "Judas" from the supporters who once idolised him.

Owen almost delivered the perfect answer to the taunts when he set up Valencia, but his shot smashed against the bar from a tight angle and United's last serious chance had gone.

There was still time for a frantic finish, with Vidic achieving the unenviable feat of a third red card in three games against Liverpool when he picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Kuyt.

Mascherano joined him on the sidelines for a similar offence, this time a late challenge on Van der Sar - but the final word was left to Liverpool and youngster Ngog.

As United pressed forward in numbers, Liverpool broke and Ngog finished with composure from Lucas's pass to set the seal on a day that went almost perfectly to the script for besieged Benitez.

Live text and stats

 

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Liverpool 2-0 Man Utd FT
(HT 0-0)
  • Torres 65
  • Ngog 90+6

    Liverpool

    Substitutes

    Man Utd

    Substitutes

    Ref: MarrinerAtt: 44,188
    LIVERPOOL
    MAN UTD

    Possession

    • Liverpool 49%
    • Man Utd 51%

    Attempts on target

    • Liverpool 6
    • Man Utd 5

    Attempts off target

    • Liverpool 5
    • Man Utd 2

    Corners

    • Liverpool 5
    • Man Utd 1

    Fouls

    • Liverpool 20
    • Man Utd 11
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+7:04 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
    • 90:00+5:30 Assist by Leiva Lucas.
    • 90:00+5:30 GOAL - David NgogLiverpool 2 - 0 Man Utd David Ngog finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Liverpool 2-0 Man Utd.
    • 90:00+4:06 Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
    • 90:00+4:06 Sent off The referee sends off Javier Mascherano for second bookable offence.
    • 90:00+4:01 Unfair challenge on Edwin Van der Sar by Javier Mascherano results in a free kick.
    • 90:00+2:59 Martin Skrtel gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney. Ryan Giggs takes the indirect free kick.
    • 90:00+2:15 Foul by David Ngog on Patrice Evra, free kick awarded. Edwin Van der Sar restarts play with the free kick.
    • 90:00+1:20 Substitution Yossi Benayoun goes off and Martin Skrtel comes on.
    • 90:00+1:03 The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia, Close range headed effort by Wayne Rooney clears the crossbar.
    • 90:00+0:32 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Michael Carrick by Javier Mascherano. Ryan Giggs takes the free kick.
    • 89:13 Javier Mascherano takes the indirect free kick.
    • 89:13 Sent off Nemanja Vidic sent from the field by the ref for second bookable offence.
    • 89:00 Nemanja Vidic concedes a free kick for a foul on Dirk Kuyt.
    • 86:20 Luis Nani fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick, Jose Reina makes a comfortable save.
    • 86:20 Booking Jamie Carragher is booked.
    • 86:14 Jamie Carragher concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Owen.
    • 85:45 The ball is crossed by Patrice Evra.
    • 83:33 Antonio Valencia takes a shot.
    • 79:49 Substitution David Ngog on for Fernando Torres.
    • 78:43 Glen Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Nani. Indirect free kick taken by Luis Nani.
    • 75:57 Centre by Antonio Valencia, Luis Nani takes a shot. Jose Reina makes a save.
    • 74:11 Booking Nemanja Vidic goes into the book.
    • 73:19 Substitution Luis Nani joins the action as a substitute, replacing Paul Scholes.
    • 73:19 Substitution Michael Owen is brought on as a substitute for Dimitar Berbatov.
    • 71:59 The free kick is delivered left-footed by Ryan Giggs from left wing, save by Jose Reina.
    • 71:59 Booking The referee shows Javier Mascherano a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 71:51 Free kick awarded for a foul by Javier Mascherano on Patrice Evra.
    • 70:56 Dirk Kuyt concedes a free kick for a foul on Nemanja Vidic. Edwin Van der Sar takes the indirect free kick.
    • 69:50 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Fabio Aurelio, Effort on goal by Leiva Lucas from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 69:34 Javier Mascherano takes a shot. Nemanja Vidic gets a block in.
    • 66:46 Michael Carrick fouled by Leiva Lucas, the ref awards a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Wayne Rooney, Daniel Agger gets a block in.
    • 66:16 Paul Scholes fouled by Javier Mascherano, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 65:56 The ball is sent over by Antonio Valencia, Daniel Agger makes a clearance.
    • 64:14 The assist for the goal came from Yossi Benayoun.
    • 64:14 GOAL - Fernando TorresLiverpool 1 - 0 Man Utd Fernando Torres finds the back of the net with a goal from close in to the top right corner of the goal. Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd.
    • 62:21 Jamie Carragher challenges Wayne Rooney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
    • 61:34 The ball is swung over by Wayne Rooney, save by Jose Reina.
    • 61:27 Ryan Giggs sends in a cross, Leiva Lucas makes a clearance.
    • 61:05 Corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Fernando Torres.
    • 59:54 Antonio Valencia fouled by Emiliano Insua, the ref awards a free kick. Centre by Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick takes a shot. Blocked by Glen Johnson.
    • 58:00 Unfair challenge on Daniel Agger by Antonio Valencia results in a free kick. Jose Reina restarts play with the free kick.
    • 56:44 The assistant referee flags for offside against Dimitar Berbatov. Indirect free kick taken by Jose Reina.
    • 55:45 Leiva Lucas gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney. Ryan Giggs delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel.
    • 54:03 Fernando Torres is caught offside. Edwin Van der Sar takes the indirect free kick.
    • 53:58 The ball is crossed by Glen Johnson, Nemanja Vidic manages to make a clearance.
    • 53:16 A cross is delivered by Fernando Torres.
    • 51:16 Fernando Torres fouled by Nemanja Vidic, the ref awards a free kick. Fabio Aurelio sends in a cross, Headed effort from inside the area by Daniel Agger misses to the left of the goal.
    • 49:54 Yossi Benayoun gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nemanja Vidic. Indirect free kick taken by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 49:19 The ball is delivered by Emiliano Insua, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
    • 49:11 The ball is sent over by Glen Johnson, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
    • 47:33 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Fabio Aurelio, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 47:04 Dimitar Berbatov gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Daniel Agger. Indirect free kick taken by Jose Reina.
    • 45:21 The ball is swung over by Dirk Kuyt, clearance made by Rio Ferdinand.
    • 45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+2:18 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
    • 45:00+1:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Leiva Lucas on Michael Carrick. Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 44:07 Foul by John O'Shea on Fernando Torres, free kick awarded. Leiva Lucas crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 43:35 Emiliano Insua crosses the ball, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 43:09 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Fabio Aurelio played to the near post, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
    • 42:55 Fernando Torres delivers the ball, blocked by Nemanja Vidic.
    • 40:33 Foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Javier Mascherano, free kick awarded. Jose Reina takes the indirect free kick.
    • 40:00 A cross is delivered by Glen Johnson.
    • 38:40 Foul by Javier Mascherano on Patrice Evra, free kick awarded. Nemanja Vidic takes the free kick.
    • 37:14 A cross is delivered by Yossi Benayoun.
    • 36:33 Jose Reina restarts play with the free kick.
    • 36:33 Booking Dimitar Berbatov is cautioned.
    • 36:24 Unfair challenge on Emiliano Insua by Dimitar Berbatov results in a free kick.
    • 35:51 Fabio Aurelio takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 32:16 Foul by Ryan Giggs on Javier Mascherano, free kick awarded. Javier Mascherano takes the free kick.
    • 30:49 Foul by Leiva Lucas on Michael Carrick, free kick awarded. Paul Scholes restarts play with the free kick.
    • 29:30 Antonio Valencia sends in a cross, Javier Mascherano manages to make a clearance.
    • 28:34 Ryan Giggs produces a cross.
    • 26:44 Dimitar Berbatov is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jose Reina.
    • 24:40 Javier Mascherano has a shot and went wide right of the net.
    • 23:50 Nemanja Vidic concedes a free kick for a foul on Fernando Torres. Daniel Agger takes the free kick.
    • 22:57 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra by Dirk Kuyt. Patrice Evra takes the indirect free kick.
    • 20:39 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
    • 19:49 Dimitar Berbatov sends in a cross.
    • 18:40 Fabio Aurelio produces a cross, clearance by Nemanja Vidic.
    • 17:39 Effort from deep inside the area by Dirk Kuyt misses to the left of the goal.
    • 16:16 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Fabio Aurelio from the right by-line, save made by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 16:11 The ball is sent over by Fabio Aurelio, Antonio Valencia makes a clearance.
    • 15:45 Dirk Kuyt takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 14:46 Fabio Aurelio has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 14:46 Booking Patrice Evra goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
    • 14:19 Foul by Patrice Evra on Fernando Torres, free kick awarded.
    • 11:48 Patrice Evra concedes a free kick for a foul on Fernando Torres. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Fabio Aurelio, clearance made by Michael Carrick.
    • 10:44 Foul by Jamie Carragher on Wayne Rooney, free kick awarded. Patrice Evra takes the free kick.
    • 9:05 Handball by Antonio Valencia. Javier Mascherano restarts play with the free kick.
    • 8:46 Foul by Dirk Kuyt on Michael Carrick, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.
    • 8:34 Centre by Patrice Evra, Jamie Carragher manages to make a clearance.
    • 6:08 The ball is sent over by Yossi Benayoun, Patrice Evra manages to make a clearance.
    • 5:18 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Fabio Aurelio, Paul Scholes makes a clearance.
    • 4:57 Leiva Lucas takes a shot. Patrice Evra gets a block in.
    • 2:09 The offside flag is raised against Wayne Rooney. Jose Reina takes the indirect free kick.
    • 0:00 The referee starts the match.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League results

    25 Oct 2009 23:59 UK

    Home Team Score Away Team Time
    Bolton 3-2 Everton R
    Liverpool 2-0 Man Utd R
    Man City 2-2 Fulham R
    West Ham 2-2 Arsenal R

    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 25 Oct 2009 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Chelsea 10 16 24
    2 Man Utd 10 10 22
    3 Arsenal 9 16 19
    4 Tottenham 10 7 19
    5 Liverpool 10 11 18
    6 Man City 9 7 18
    7 Aston Villa 9 5 17
    8 Sunderland 10 3 16
    9 Stoke 10 -2 15
    10 Wigan 10 -5 13
    11 Burnley 10 -12 12
    12 Bolton 9 -1 11
    13 Fulham 9 -2 11
    14 Everton 9 -3 11
    15 Birmingham 10 -4 10
    16 Blackburn 9 -11 10
    17 Wolverhampton 10 -7 9
    18 Hull 10 -14 8
    19 West Ham 9 -4 6
    20 Portsmouth 10 -10 4

    see also
    Benitez hails quality of Torres
    26 Oct 09 |  Liverpool
    Ferguson questions key decisions
    26 Oct 09 |  Premier League
    Sunday football as it happened
    25 Oct 09 |  Football
    Sunday's football photos
    25 Oct 09 |  Football
    Reds fans march in owner protest
    25 Oct 09 |  Merseyside
    Rooney 'can match world's best'
    29 Sep 09 |  Europe
    Benitez job safe says Reds chief
    25 Oct 09 |  Premier League



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