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Liverpool thrash Man U 4-1; title race on
London, Mar 14 (Agencies):
Published on 15 Mar. 2009 12:04 AM IST
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First Real Madrid, now Manchester United. Liverpool arrived at Old Trafford dreaming of giving their title charge CPR. What they managed was a rout so comprehensive, so humiliating that by the end it was little less than resurrection. Goals from Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena completed the sacking of Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, after taking the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty, could not cope with the red tide which overwhelmed them. Benitez was adamant before this game that if Liverpool were to catch United, in the short term and long term, they would need to be flawless as a team and as a club. For 23 minutes, their disciplined, organised approach suggested it was a mantra he had drummed into his players. Then one rash, ridiculous minute threatened to undo a season’s good work. Carlos Tevez slipped Park Ji-Sung through Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. The Korean knocked the ball past the onrushing Pepe Reina, but the Spanish goalkeeper, already committed, clipped his heels. Ronaldo emphatically converted the penalty and Old Trafford exulted in a second successive hari-kiri from their hated rivals. Liverpool, being ushered toward the doors of the last chance saloon, were not about to lie down without a fight, but even they would have been surprised by United’s generosity after a season where Ferguson’s side have been so ruthless. Just five minutes after Old Trafford exploded, Liverpool were level. Nemanja Vidic made almost his first mistake of the season, misjudging Martin Skrtel’s long punt, allowing Torres to rob him and coolly slot home. Just as against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, the Spaniard had that glint in his eye that suggested this was not a game he was prepared to lose. It was Torres who was at the heart of the action again when his clever through ball enabled Gerrard to speed past Evra, the Frenchman tripping him as he burst into the box. The Liverpool captain duly stood up and scored from a penalty against United at Old Trafford, the first man to do so since Gary Speed for Bolton almost two years ago. Half-time probably was not a pleasant time for United’s players. Ferguson reserves a special loathing for Liverpool, but that is as nothing when compared to his distaste for seeing his own players underperform. United started the second half with renewed vigour, Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo all going close as Liverpool, seemingly nervous of the expected onslaught, wobbled. Rooney, especially, was determined to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and he could have equalised when he met Ronaldo’s cross at the far post but only managed to toe poke the ball over Reina and slightly beyond Park. The pressure only grew more severe. Tevez skewed wide after he broke Liverpool’s offside trap. One Ronaldo howitzer flew just over. Ferguson called for the cavalry. On came Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov, but Liverpool started to threaten as the spaces opened up, no more so than when Gerrard escaped Vidic and was hauled down by the Serb when clean through. For the second time this season against Liverpool, Vidic was off. The punishment only got worse. Aurelio curled the resulting free kick beautifully, unstoppably past Van Der Sar. rESULT Fulham 3-1 Bolton Arsenal 4-0 Blackburn Middles -brough 1-1 Portsmouth Liverpool may be too late to stake a serious claim to the title this season, but they have pierced United’s aura of invincibility. As a statement of intent, their rampage at Old Trafford may prove priceless.

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