Sabtu, 28 Januari 2012

Liverpool 2-1: Man Utd: Kuyt king of the Kop with late winner

The Kop claimed a justice of sorts in their war with Patrice Evra – and they have a place in the FA Cup fifth round as proof.

After all the hype, the irony could not have been more delicious for Liverpool yesterday as they held Evra to account for his part in the Luis Suarez affair.

Believing their Uruguayan striker to be hard done by after being found guilty of racially abusing the Manchester United star, they taunted and baited the left-back for almost 90 minutes.

They were met with a stonewall ­reaction from the Frenchman.

But as the game headed for a replay, the defender fatally let his guard down.

And in a split second of lost concentration, Sir Alex Ferguson’s stars were floored by Dirk Kuyt’s late sucker punch that lifted the roof off Anfield.

Evra had weathered the storm for 87 minutes and must have thought he was home and dry after every Liverpool fan in the ground seemed to vent their anger in his direction.

But the explosion of noise that ­greeted Kuyt’s surprise winner must have been agony for Evra.

As Pepe Reina launched the ball forward, Evra pushed up and allowed the Dutchman to steal in behind him and latch on to Andy Carroll’s flick.


The goal signalled the end of a ­remarkable week for Liverpool, after knocking both Manchester clubs out of the Carling Cup and FA Cup in the space of four days.

Defeat by City and United was set to trigger Anfield meltdown. Instead they are now in one Wembley final and building the momentum to have a crack at another.

They were a shambles against Bolton last week but they can still be a force at Anfield – as United and City can testify.

And all without Suarez too.

At Old Trafford on February 11, the South American will not have the massed ranks of support he had around him yesterday. But he clearly enjoyed the win yesterday and his buck-toothed grin seemed stuck on his face as the final whistle went.

It had looked for all the world, though, that this tie was heading for an Old Trafford replay.

And that would not have upset boss Ferguson, who saw his side dominate possession but create very little.

But Kuyt’s swerving drive from just inside the box made it another bad day for United at Anfield – with keeper David de Gea again in the spotlight.

De Gea was recalled after a four-game spell on the sidelines. But while £35million striker Carroll climbed out of his own personal hell with a hand in both goals, United’s Spanish keeper sank further into the mire.

The £17.8million keeper has hardly covered himself in glory this season, making mistakes in most games.

Early in the season, when United were in their pomp, they weren’t a major problem. But his gaffes now are proving costly.

He was suspect again as Liverpool took a 20th-minute lead, caught in no-man’s land as Steven Gerrard arrowed a corner on to the penalty spot.

De Gea had no chance of navigating all the bodies in front of him and should have stayed on his line.

But he came – and saw Daniel Agger power a header past him.

After that, he looked increasingly shaky and, at one stage in the first half, his goalkeeping rival Anders Lindegaard even started ­warming up. In the injured Wayne Rooney’s absence, Ferguson went for numbers in midfield, with Danny Welbeck leading the line on his own up front.

It meant old stagers Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, along with Michael Carrick, monopolised possession for long spells while Liverpool played like the away team on the counter-attack.


After their lung-busting efforts against City in midweek, that maybe suited Dalglish’s men, who did not need another high-octane battle.

Antonio Valencia looked United’s most potent threat and moved in off the right touchline to smash a great shot against Reina’s right-hand post.

After Liverpool went ahead United stepped up their efforts and grabbed an equaliser six minutes before the break when Park Ji-Sung crashed a low shot past Reina after a clever cut-back from Rafael.

Kop boss Kenny Dalglish freshened up with Charlie Adam, Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, while Ferguson sent on Javier Hernandez.

Two handball appeals, one for each team, were dismissed by Mark Halsey before Welbeck had the sniff of a goal. Carrick’s super pass freed him but, although Welbeck nicked the ball around Reina, Martin Skrtel came to the rescue.

After Kuyt’s goal, Carroll headed against the bar with United clearly wounded. This was Liverpool’s day – and one Evra will want to forget.

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