LONDON — It was a recovery that put Old Trafford on edge and had Sir Alex Ferguson chewing frantically on the touchline, but it was a recovery in vain by Liverpool as Manchester United maintained their seven-point gap at the top of the Premier League yesterday.
Report by Guardian
Manchester City kept check, dismissing Arsenal 2-0 thanks to a red card to Laurent Koscielny and goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko in the first half.
The red card saw City awarded a penalty by referee Mike Dean, but Dzeko missed.
City skipper Vincent Kompany was also given his marching orders for a tackle on Jack Wilshere.
Man United moved to 55 points, City up to 48 points, while Arsenal (34) are fifth and Liverpool on eighth position with 31 points.
At Old Trafford, Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic scored the goals that gave United an eighth win in nine home matches against their great rivals and ensured Liverpool’s belated response, inspired by Daniel Sturridge, fell short.
The visitors were strangely passive throughout a first half and the breakthrough typified United’s superiority on the ball as they waited patiently for an opening then produced a devastating attack led by the excellent Michael Carrick.
Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley all combined to release Patrice Evra down the left and when his cross arrived hard and low across the area Van Persie escaped Daniel Agger to convert beyond José Reina.
Rodgers introduced Sturridge alongside the isolated Luis Suárez while matching United’s formation.
The effect was immediate on the Liverpool performance yet the task before them increased when Nemanja Vidic inadvertently headed United further ahead early in the second half.
Van Persie produced an inviting free-kick, after Skrtel had been booked for pulling down Welbeck when clear, and Evra sent a free header past Reina at the far post.
Forensic replays, however, showed a final touch off Vidic’s forehead had diverted the ball under the keeper’s arm.
Liverpool were offered an unlikely route back within three minutes when Steven Gerrard seized on a careless pass from Cleverley and forced David de Gea into his first genuine save of note.
De Gea could only parry, and Sturridge reacted quicker than Rafael to the loose ball to convert his second goal in two Liverpool appearances since his £12m purchase from Chelsea.