We do not have to hype up Manchester United vs Liverpool. The world watches it. One of the fierce battles between England’s most decorated teams, the North-West derby promises to be yet another blockbuster. It’s a pity such games do not have the crowds they deserve in the stadium. That is what heats up the atmosphere a level up. Nevertheless, the intent between the players is going to be the top drawer.
The United-Liverpool rivalry dates back to more than 100 years and has never died out till date. With the Reds winning the Premier League 19 times lately, the clash with the red side of Manchester becomes even bitter. Currently, the two sides hold the first two places in the league. With eyes for another title, both clubs will desperately want to make a loud statement to everyone.
The Red Devils hold the boast of a superior head-to-head record and 20 top-flight titles, whereas Liverpool have the edge on overall official trophies. Notably, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have not tasted success against Jurgen Klopp’s boys since 2018. These oppositions have various individual players that are disliked by the respective supporters. Right from Gary Neville’s celebration in 2006 to Luis Suarez’s antics in the 2011-12 season, every game is remembered in its own way. We highlight to you three of the greatest matches to be played in recent years between the two.
Dimitar Berbatov’s hat-trick (September 2010)
A moment to savour for the mighty Bulgarian. Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov won this game on his own with his sheer brilliance and grace.
The Merseyside outfit had a shaky start to the season. Roy Hodson, the then-Liverpool manager needed this big win to get back on track but it hadn’t to be. Six Alex Ferguson’s boys began the half with creativity and opened the scoring from a Berbatov header. Then came something the ecstatic Stretford End will never forget. A Luis Nani cross, Dimitar takes a touch and attempts an overhead kick. The ball rattles the inside of the crossbar and glides into Pepe Reina’s net.
The home side looked comfortable with a 2-0 lead but the Steven Gerrad led side found an opening with a spot-kick converted by the skipper himself. Minutes later he levelled the scoring from a free-kick. The visitors looked to make a spirited comeback in the game but Berbatov had the perfect climax. He rose high from another cross to head in the winner six minutes from time.
A hat-trick for the archives, United fans would feel the €30 million was well spent in that game itself.
Substitute Shaqiri wins it for Liverpool (December 2018)
In recent memory, Xherdan Shaqiri’s late heroics gave Klopp’s men all three points at Anfield and took them at the top of the Premier League.
Liverpool were doing everything they could to get their hands on their 19th league title. The 2018 season could have been the year. They welcomed their rivals at home and climbed to the summit during the festive period after a well-deserved victory.
The hosts deservedly took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of a Sadio Mane finish. The home side kept knocking on the door but couldn’t double their lead. In the second half, Jesse Lingard was the first to react on a rebound and slotted the equaliser. On came super-sub, Shaq. Within just three minutes from coming off the bench, the Swiss international pounced and squeezed in a goal in front of the Kop End to put his team ahead. He didn’t stop there. Seven minutes later he bagged another goal to the delight of the faithful.
That loss meant Manchester United were 17 points behind the leaders and saw Jose Mourinho lose his seat immediately after the defeat.
Juan and only (March 2015)
Gone in 38 seconds!
That’s it. Is that why this game is fondly remembered? In his last outing vs Manchester United, Steven Gerrard came on as a substitute and saw a straight red within 38 seconds.
Louis van Gaal’s men took the road to Anfield during the end of Brendon Rogers’ reign with the aim to do a double over them. Rogers had opted to field Adam Lallana instead of the then 34-year-old Steven Gerrard. The home side found themselves a goal down thanks to Juan Mata’s first-half goal. The Liverpool manager then preferred the diamond and subbed on the skipper for Lallana during the break. It was Gerrard’s last season for the club and also the last time he faced his biggest rivals.
Referee Martin Atkinson barely hesitated in showing the number 8 a red card within 38 seconds for a foul on Ander Herrera. The Liverpool legend later apologized and took responsibility for the result but it didn’t take time for United to disturb the tactics.
Juan Mata then doubled the lead with an acrobatic finish, further denting the hopes of the supporters. Daniel Sturridge put one past David de Gea’s near post to give a glimmer of possibility but the away side had the luxury to miss a stoppage-time penalty after Simon Mignolet saved a Wayne Rooney spot-kick.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Paul Ellis