Manchester United won at Liverpool yesterday for a first time in five seasons, although manager Alex Ferguson called the performance “poor” after his team struggled to overcome a 10-man team.
United rallied to beat the Reds 2-1 for its fourth straight victory in English soccer’s Premier League this season, keeping the Red Devils in second spot. Defending champion Manchester City tied 1-1 against Arsenal.
“I thought we were poor, to be honest with you,” Ferguson told MUTV. “I think the last four years we’ve allowed the crowd to get to us a little bit, they give fantastic support to their team and they really dominated the first half.”
Liverpool, which remains winless, played for more than half the match with 10 men after Jonjo Shelvey was shown a straight red card. Steven Gerrard put the hosts ahead in the opening minute of the second half, before goals from Rafael da Silva and Robin van Persie, who scored with a penalty kick.
In yesterday’s other games, Tottenham beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1, while Newcastle defeated Norwich City 1-0.
United moves to 12 points, one point behind league leader Chelsea. Everton and West Bromwich Albion are two points further back, with Arsenal, Fulham and City on nine points. Liverpool remains 18th in the 20-team standings.
At Anfield, there were tributes before kick-off to the 96 fans who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Yesterday saw Liverpool’s first home match since U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron apologized for injustices, cover-up and misinformation by police surrounding the event.
Former United player Bobby Charlton presented flowers to ex-Liverpool forward Ian Rush, while captains Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons.
Also, in the pre-game ceremony, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez shook hands with United’s Patrice Evra. There’d been speculation Suarez might not do so after serving a suspension for racially abusing Evra last season.
Giggs had one of the first efforts in the match, but was unable to get his shot from the edge of the area on target after seven minutes. Moments later, Suarez forced Anders Lindegaard into a save from a tight angle.
Two minutes later, Gerrard hit a shot just wide after escaping his marker at a corner.
Liverpool’s chances of a first league win this season appeared slim when Shelvey was red-carded on 39 minutes for a foul on Jonny Evans.
“I thought it was a very, very harsh decision and throughout the game that’s how it went for us,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told reporters.
It was still Liverpool that looked most like scoring before the interval, Lindegaard forced to tip wide a free kick from Suarez.
Liverpool was ahead soon after the restart, Gerrard firing past Lindegaard. United leveled five minutes later when Da Silva collected the ball just outside the penalty area and curled a shot past Pepe Reina.
The hosts still pushed forward, with Suarez again testing Lindegaard after 61 minutes. The goalkeeper tipped over from substitute Suso four minutes later.
United was awarded a penalty when Antonio Valencia burst into the box on 76 minutes, with referee Mark Halsey deciding the winger was fouled by Glen Johnson.
There was a five-minute delay for an injury to Liverpool’s Daniel Agger, who had to leave the field, before Van Persie struck the spot-kick. Reina got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out.
Martin Kelly missed an opportunity to tie the match as he headed wide on 83 minutes. The fullback limped off deep into injury time as Liverpool finished with only nine players on the field.
United held on for its first win at Anfield since December 2007. Liverpool has three defeats and two draws from its five league games this season.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the result, I thought the best team lost,” Rodgers said. “Very, very soon our luck will change and we’ll do what it takes to win games, and when we do, I believe we’ll fly.”
City was held to its third league draw of the season after Laurent Koscielny rescued a point for Arsenal with eight minutes remaining at the Etihad Stadium.
“We are a strong squad and we have to stick together,” Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker told Sky Sports. “We did well and we have to keep on going.”
Koscielny fired the ball past Joe Hart, who had kept his team ahead moments earlier with a diving save from a Santi Cazorla shot.
Joleon Lescott put City ahead on 40 minutes with a header from a corner by David Silva. It was only the second league goal Arsenal has allowed this season.
Defending champion City has yet to shut out any opposition this campaign and has recorded only two wins. It slipped to a 3- 2 loss at Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.
Tottenham scored two goals in a minute at White Hart Lane to rally from a goal behind against QPR. Bobby Zamora put QPR ahead on 33 minutes, with the hosts replying from an Alejandro Faurlin own goal and a strike by Jermain Defoe.
Demba Ba scored his third goal in two games to seal a win for Newcastle.
Two days ago, Chelsea beat Stoke 1-0, Everton won 3-0 at Swansea, West Brom defeated Reading 1-0, and Southampton beat Aston Villa 4-1. Fulham won 2-1 at Wigan, while West Ham and Sunderland tied 1-1.