Liverpool FC rounded off one of the best weeks in the club’s recent history by beating rivals Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt came on as a substitute to score the winning goal at the Kop End and send the Reds into the fifth round of football’s oldest cup competition, just three days after Manchester’s other major players, City, were knocked out of the Carling Cup at the semi-final stage.
Much of the build-up to the encounter was
dominated by United defender Patrice Evra’s
return to Anfield following his racism allegation
While many of the home supporters made their
feelings towards the Frenchman clear throughout
the game, the simmering rivalry did not ignite, as
some had feared.
However, Merseyside Police confirmed they are
investigating claims that one fan made an alleged
racist gesture during the match, as an image
surfaced on Twitter immediately afterwards.
Both teams admirably did their talking on the pitch
in an open and lively match.
Manager Kenny Dalglish had clearly instructed his
team to target troubled visiting goalkeeper David de Gea and the Spaniard’s nervousness showed when
he allowed Daniel Agger to rise highest and nod home from a corner to put Liverpool ahead.
The home side struggled to build on their advantage, however, and United began to control affairs. With
veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes dictating the midfield against emergency holding player Jamie
Carragher, the Red Devils struck back.
Rafael da Silva capitalised on a rare mistake from full-back Jose Enrique, one of Liverpool’s brightest and most consistent performers this campaign, to cross for Park Ji-Sung, who drilled a shot past the helpless Pepe Reina.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side remained on top as the second half began but a double substitution from Dalglish turned the tie back in Liverpool’s favour. Charlie Adam and Kuyt entered midway through the second period and brought new vigour to the Reds’ play.
Record signing Andy Carroll produced as combative a performance as he ever has in a Liverpool shirt and his flick-on from a long goal-kick allowed Kuyt to smash a shot past De Gea for the winner with just two minutes to play.
The £35million striker could have given the Reds an even greater cushion when his far-post header crashed against the upright but Kuyt’s goal was enough and Liverpool will be in the hat when the draw for the fifth round is made.
After watching Craig Bellamy inspire the Reds against City in midweek, captain Steven Gerrard suggested the Welshman could emulate Gary McAllister’s influential performances during the 2000/01 season, when Liverpool won a treble of cup competitions.
While only two trophies are available this time around, Liverpool fans are basking in the renewed good times at Anfield under club legend Dalglish. Plans are already being put in place for a trip to Wembley on 26 February, when the Reds face Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final.
After today’s victory over United, fingers will now be crossed in hope that another date can be pencilled in for the FA Cup showpiece in May, following six years without a trophy success and 16 years since a trip to Wembley.
By Chris Shaw, Senior Editor
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Dalglish celebrates Dirk Kuyt's winner after Daniel Agger headed Liverpool in front (Pictures © Trinity Mirror)
© Trinity Mirror
Pictures © Trinity Mirror