Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Score, Highlights and Grades
Liverpool's miserable and winless start to the season continues, as the Reds lost to Manchester United on Sunday, 2-1.
The Anfield side was far more enthusiastic and energetic in the early stages, outplaying the Red Devils for most of the first half.
But the team's fortunes appeared to reverse after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a brash challenge against Jonny Evans in the 39th minute. Playing a man down is difficult against any opponent. Against Manchester United, it's suicide.
Still, Liverpool stayed on the front foot until the 51st minute, when the hard-working side was rewarded by a Steven Gerrard goal in the box off the volley. It was a particularly emotional goal for Gerrard at Anfield amidst the recent revelations surrounding the Hillsborough disaster, as his 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was killed during the 1989 tragedy.
Liverpool's superiority in the match was not to last, however. A brilliant curling shot from a difficult angle off the foot of Rafael da Silva tied the game in the 51st minute.
Manchester United dominated possession after that, clearly capitalizing on the man advantage. While Liverpool hardly gave up, the match's momentum had clearly turned. That came to a head in the 76th minute, when Antonio Valencia's brilliant run down the right side was stopped by a Glen Johnson foul in the box.
That led to a penalty kick, and Robin van Persie blasted home the game-winner despite Pepe Reina guessing correctly and getting his hands on the ball. It was an insult to injury moment, as Daniel Agger had to be taken off via a stretcher just before van Persie's goal.
It was a tough way for the Reds to lose, especially after being the superior side early. It will be back to the drawing board for new boss Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool side, who couldn't have possibly envisioned a more disappointing start to the 2012-13 campaign.
Raheem Sterling, Liverpool: A
The poise of this 17-year-old kid is pretty remarkable. He makes excellent runs, looks strong on the ball and doesn't seem intimidated by the big stage in the least.
I might be grading him a bit against his age rather than in regard to his overall performance, but I've yet to watch a Liverpool match that he's played in when I haven't been impressed by his potential and poise.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United: B
While he wasn't a huge factor in this game, van Persie deserves credit for ending Manchester United's poor run on penalty kicks in recent play. There was nothing cute about his attempt; it was a pure rocket, and it did the trick.
Van Persie will need to be more involved in the run of play for Manchester United to be effective when teams don't drop down to 10 men. But on Sunday, he did his job when called upon, and for that he should be credited.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool: B
But going down a man proved difficult for Gerrard in the center of the midfield, and he found difficulty keeping Manchester United from dominating possession and finding plenty of space in the middle of hte pitch.
Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United: C
The man tasked with orchestrating the Red Devils attack in the middle of the pitch was generally a non-factor in this game. He may give this team a new dimension with his creativity and attacking verve, but that dimension wasn't present in this game.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool: B
All Suarez didn't do was score a goal in this game. While that didn't hurt his game, some of his decision-making was suspect.
For all of his movement and class on the ball, Suarez often tries to do too much in my opinion. Rather than run toward the touchline and rip a cross, he tries to drag the ball behind a defender and loses it. Rather than find a teammate, he takes on one player too many and the attack fizzles out.
I enjoy watching Suarez play, I really do. But in this one, the goal didn't come and he tried just a bit too hard to score one himself to get a better grade.
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