It looked like it was going to be Liverpool’s day until with three minutes left to play Michael Owen beat his former club’s back line for pace. He rounded Jamie Carragher and slotted the ball in to the bottom right hand corner when one-on-one with the Pepe Reina.
Oh, sorry, my mistake. Jamie Carragher hauled Owen to the ground and as the last man somehow managed to escape a red card. Given that Nemanja Vidic was shown a straight red card for pulling Steven Gerrard down at Old Trafford last season when he wasn’t the last man, a decision which was supported by the commentators and press alike, it is odd that Andre Marriner, who surely had a Liverpool jersey underneath his black referee’s shirt, missed such a blatant red card. A clear goalscoring opportunity was taken away from us, with even Liverpool fans surely big enough to admit that the likelihood is Owen would have scored from that position (God knows they saw him do it enough times for them!), yet our only consolation was a freekick. A truly woeful decision which cost us all the points today. Saying that, this is the referee who allowed Lucas Levia nine fouls without a booking and missed our two penalty shouts.
Carragher ploughed in to Carrick in the box, bringing the man down and touching, yet not winning, the ball. Had Carrick not been brought down he would have happily kept possession in the box as Carragher did not play the ball out of his path. As it was, Carragher brought Carrick to the ground and denied him an effort on goal just yards out.
Just minutes before Agger pushed Ryan Giggs over in the box, not winning the ball, but Marriner was again oblivious.
Fernando Torres took his goal very well and Rio Ferdinand will have to wonder how he allowed the Spaniard to get past him with such little effort. However, seeing Torres throw himself to the floor every time he was challenged reminded me what a relief it is not to have such blatant cheat in the team. Ronaldo, we wish you well, and whilst I don’t miss his diving, it would have been nice to have someone willing to have a go from the edge of the box today. I imagine Liverpool fans are happy to have a diver in the side if he scores vital goals like that though, just as we were with Ronaldo.
It was a frustrating afternoon for United, with us not really getting out of first gear, yet Antonio Valencia came painfully close to scoring after Owen played him in, but the effort came back off the woodwork.
In the first half, Wayne Rooney came closest to scoring with a header that he couldn’t quite direct past Reina, whilst Liverpool’s best attempt was a Fabio Aurelio freekick which Van der Sar saved.
The only consolation from today’s result is that we’re still only two points off the top and four points clear of Liverpool. Their fans claim we will always be in their shadow, but after winning our 18th title last season and seeing their players celebrate as though they had actually won a trophy (something which has evaded them for years) it is clear the tide has changed. The last time I saw our goalkeeper run the length of the pitch to celebrate with our players was when Giggsy scored our second against Wigan the season before last, wrapping up the title. It seems as though just beating United at home is reason enough for Reina to do the same. Saying that, Reina conceded the title in mid-September so it is no surprise playing United is his cup final.
We weren’t good enough today but a referee who could do his job would have seen us get at least a point, with Liverpool also failing to set the world alight despite the favourable position they were given by the ref. This is a spanner in the works as far as our title challenge goes but hopefully next weekend we won’t be playing against twelve men and we’ll get ourselves back on track.
We’ll never die.