Barclays Premier League – Sunday October 25 2009 – Result
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0
Comments and quotes:
Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez on what this result said about his squad: “The players have answered a lot of questions and that’s the most important thing. The team is better than people think.”
Rafa’s view of the newspaper speculation that had him on the brink of being sacked: “I have not read the papers too much. I was focused on the things we could control – the training sessions and mentality of the players of players. I am really pleased but not just for me – for the players and the fans.”
Rafa gets criticised for just about everything, including the way he rarely shows any emotion during a game. This was no different after Fernando Torres had opened the scoring: “I was enjoying it but on the inside – we were against a good team and I was thinking about how to create chances and control the opposition.”
So was it a good goal in Rafa’s eyes? “It was a great goal – always he is a threat. Torres was a bit tired and it was difficult for him but he made the difference.”
Fernando Torres, who’d needed a pain-killing injection before kick-off, on his performance: “I wasn’t really at my best. We knew before the game I couldn’t play to one hundred percent because I had some pain in some actions, but in games like this the pain doesn’t matter.”
“I feel a bit of pain when I shoot across so I could only shoot towards the near post – it was the only thing I could do! I am really happy for the fans and the players and we will enjoy this.”
Torres was asked if the result put Liverpool back into the title race: “We are in the race again. We knew before the game that we had to win and we did it. Now we have a bit of confidence but we have to keep it going on Wednesday in the Carling Cup against Arsenal, then we have to be focused for Fulham.”
Torres on the team-spirit at the club: “We feel like a strong team again because we’re working all together like in the past. We will see what happens and then look at things at the end.”
Scorer of the second goal, David Ngog, on the goal that confirmed the win: “This was a fantastic moment for me and the team and I would say it’s my best moment in football. I have always dreamed of scoring a goal for Liverpool against Manchester United and now it has happened and it is a really good feeling.
“I dedicate this goal to my family who always support me and the Liverpool supporters. We know how much this victory means to our supporters. I also give thanks to my teammates and the manager for always showing faith in me.”
Ngog’s words hinted that the self-belief was coming back to the squad: “We know we have a lot of quality so this result means everything for the team. We have worked really hard together and I think we deserved to win.”
Pepe Reina was first to congratulate Ngog for his goal, racing at 21mph from his own goalmouth to the Kop end to jump into the arms of the young Frenchman. Ngog said: “I was surprised because the first person to celebrate with me was Pepe but that shows you just what this victory means for us. This was a big moment for the team and everyone wanted this victory. It shows how good the team spirit and togetherness is.” (Attempts have been made in some quarters to suggest Rafa had ‘lost the dressing room’ or that the dressing room was split, Ngog’s comments suggest those claims were very wide of the mark.)
Ngog on the Arsenal game in the Carling Cup on Wednesday and whether he’ll be one of those given a game: “We are looking forward to it and all I can do is keep working hard and show what I can do when I get the opportunity. I just want to do my best for the team.”
Man United manager, Alex Ferguson almost admitting his side’s shortcomings against a side who went into this game well-and-truly on the ropes: “There was a wounded animal aspect to the game and it was something we did not overcome. It was a disappointing performance by us, in the first half in particular.”
Ferguson ensuring he got the customary mention in of how much it was down to the referee: “We did not handle the decisions against us.
Ferguson on the intimidating Anfield atmosphere and – of course – the referee: “All in all Liverpool were the better team but I think it affected our players and the referee. There were so many controversial things that happened we have to feel aggrieved at some of them. The atmosphere is hard to handle for a referee. Every decision, the crowd put the referee under pressure all the time. Whether he had enough experience, I don’t know.
“It was a disappointing performance and Liverpool were better. We never got any luck in terms of refereeing decisions, but we have to hold our hands up: we weren’t good enough.”
Ferguson on Jamie Carragher’s challenge on Michael Carrick: “As far as I’m concerned, Carrick should have had a clear penalty. Carragher’s gone over the top of the ball. He has gone right over the top of the ball. If it is outside of the box it is a free-kick and maybe a yellow card but it was inside the box and nothing was given, and the referee was only six yards from it. It was another bad decision.” (Replays clearly showed Carra had got to the ball, and that none of the United players – including Carrick – had even half-heartedly raised an arm in protest).
Ferguson on Carragher’s challenge on Michael Owen: “The most controversial decision was Carragher bringing down Michael Owen. He was clear through. The laws of the game were altered to prevent professional fouls of that nature and if Carragher goes off, he is their best player and their captain. It would have been a different game. They would have been under pressure.
“The referee was only four or five yards from it so he cannot use a covering defender as an excuse. Michael was clean through. With Michael’s pace he is going to get away from him.”
Ferguson on Vidic being sent off: “The first Vidic booking was the worst decision. It is a foul, fine, but the player has played on, he won the second ball and knocked it for a throw in and got booked. It put Nemanja under pressure.” (If Carra’s foul on Owen was worth a straight red, would the Vidic foul for his second yellow not also have been worth a straight red?)
Ferguson, after making a string of complaints about the referee: “Liverpool created the better chances and I have no complaints. We were not good enough but we will always react to defeat – that is the most important thing about this club.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from Liverpool – they were the better team – but there were so many controversial things that happened that we feel a bit aggrieved.”
“Part of the challenge is how you react to disappointment. We lost 4-1 to Liverpool at home last season, which was a travesty at the time. But the players buckled down and we went on to win the league.”
United full-back Patrice Evra: “The advice was to play our football but we didn’t do that and I don’t know why. Liverpool were aggressive but we didn’t play and that’s why it’s so frustrating to lose.”
Evra refuted his boss’s claims that the intimidating atmosphere had played a big part in United’s defeat: “I’m always happy to play here, I’m not scared.” But he kept to the party line as far as the referee was concerned: “I don’t understand why Carragher only got a yellow card for fouling Owen when I think he was the last man.”
Evra said he and his team-mates were poor: “I look more at the display of Manchester United and the display was poor today. Normally when United play we create at least five or six clear chances but we only had the one when Valencia hit the crossbar. It’s not enough if you want to win against Liverpool.”
Evra on losing against United’s biggest rivals: “It’s the most pain you can have when you play for United. There was a big silence in the dressing room afterwards and we will need a few days to recover from this big disappointment for us, for the staff, for the fans. Now I think we need to do what we did last year – win the league after losing to Liverpool. We also need to make sure we show the real United team at Old Trafford.”
One player most likely to be hurt by the defeat was self-confessed scouse-hater Gary Neville. The Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter branded the unused sub “a disgrace”: “Inevitably, Ferguson moaned about the referee but really there were two people attempting to run this game, Marriner and Neville. As he warmed up along the touchline, Neville kept lecturing the linesman in-between goading lippy Liverpool fans. Mike Phelan, Ferguson’s No 2, eventually had to bring the club’s stroppy No 2 back into the dug-out.
“Neville’s behaviour was disgraceful. No one expected anything else. This is the fixture of sound and fury signifying everything. The intense rivalry that Ferguson had spoken about was present everywhere from the froideur between the managers, the hatred between the fans and the competitive zeal embodied by Carragher and Torres.”
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 Johnson, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 22 Insua, 23 Carragher, 15 Benayoun (37 Skrtel, 90+2), 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 9 Torres (24 Ngog, 80), 18 Kuyt
Unused subs: 1 Cavalieri, 27 Degen, 26 Spearing, 10 Voronin, 19 Babel
Booked: Carragher, Mascherano
Goals: Torres 65, Ngog 90+5
Manchester United: 1 Van der Sar, 3 Evra, 5 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 22 O’Shea, 11 Giggs, 16 Carrick, 18 Scholes (17 Nani, 74), 25 Valencia, 9 Berbatov(7 Owen, 74), 10 Rooney
Unused Subs: 12 Foster, 2 Neville, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 23 Evans, 8 Anderson
Booked: Evra, Vidic, Berbatov
Referee: Andre Marriner
Stats: (Liverpool-Manchester United)
Shots on target: 6-5
Shots off target: 5-2