The recent encounter had plenty of extra weight to it.
Liverpool returned to Anfield for the first time since the truth about Hillsborough was revealed.
Families and friends of the 96 victims finally received justice. 23 years of anguish came to an end in a story that has touched football fans across the globe.
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty underlined a reflective atmosphere before kickoff.
Large group of fans already outside Anfield's Hillsborough memorial eternal flame laying floral tributes. Start of an emotional day.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) September 23, 2012
Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton exchanged a floral tribute with Liverpool hero Ian Rush. Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard, then sent 96 red balloons into the sky—one for every Liverpool fan who tragically died in the disaster.
The stadium rang loud with "You'll Never Walk Alone" whilst fans held up mosaics spelling out "Justice" and "The Truth". This was a poignant moment for any football fan, no matter their allegiance.
As the two teams headed onto the pitch, another sub-plot came to a finale.
Luis Suarez was convicted of racially abusing Patrice Evra last season. He was subsequently banned for eight games. After serving his suspension, the Uruguayan was picked in the side to face Manchester United at Old Trafford. In an act of foolishness, Suarez decided against shaking the Frenchman's hand.
Luckily, we can finally draw a line under such a needless fiasco. The pair put differences aside and shook hands as expected.
Oliver Kay at The Times confirmed the act of unity and indicated all was going to plan.
Suarez and Evra shook hands, to applause from the crowd. That's a start ...— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) September 23, 2012
Liverpool dominated when the action began. United failed to grasp the ball and continued to lose possession across the pitch.
The home side looked as if they would grab a deserved goal before Jonjo Shelvey's lunge on Jonny Evans saw him sent off.
OptaJoe reminded us just how often a red card is shown in this fixture:
14 - Only Liverpool v Everton (20) has seen more red cards than Liverpool v Man Utd (14) in Premier League history. Rash.— Opta(@OptaJoe) September 23, 2012
Brendan Rodgers' side continued to control the game heading into halftime. After the break, Steven Gerrard finally broke the deadlock with a superbly taken strike.
Oliver Holt from The Daily Mirror outlined the symbolic nature of Gerrard's goal:
What a goal from Gerrard to put Liverpool ahead and what a roar from the Kop. Gerrard points to the skies as he celebrates— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) September 23, 2012
Manchester United then equalised through a fantastic curling shot from Rafael. The visitors scarcely deserved to draw level but capitalised on their first threatening attack of the second half.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side proceeded to take a little more control of the match. Even so, Liverpool continued to win individual battles and created chances with 10 men.
Bleacher Report's Michael Cummings acknowledged the home side's performance. In a Nostradamus-styled act he proceeded to call what would happen next:
Liverpool still better despite playing last 30-plus minutes with 10 men. Which means we're about to see a sucker-punch United winner…right?— Michael Cummings (@MikeCummings37) September 23, 2012
Antonio Valencia then produced a powerful run to earn United a penalty. The Ecuadorian pinched the ball between two Liverpool players and showed great desire to burst towards the box.
Robin van Persie stepped up to slot the penalty home. Replays suggested Pepe Reina got two hands to the ball and was unlucky not to keep the strike out. After missing three penalties in their last three matches, United took the lead.
Things got worse for Liverpool as Martin Kelly received a serious injury. The 22-year-old defender is expected to be out for six months with cruciate ligament damage (via BBC Sport).
As the match came to a close, the host's chances of a much-needed victory looked slim. United managed to keep possession with more intent and saw the game out for an unimpressive three points.
An exciting match failed to overshadow the importance of such a day.
For the most part, fans of both teams managed to come together and celebrate those who lost their lives at Hillsborough. The majority paid tribute and witnessed a competitive battle between historic rivals.
It was emotional, eventful, and completely unpredictable.
Liverpool's official Twitter account quickly posted the thoughts of managing director Ian Ayre.
LFC) September 23, 2012
Despite the mindless chants of idiotic individuals (via The Telegraph), both Liverpool and Manchester United should be commended for a fantastic occasion.
If anyone questions the mutual respect between the two clubs, I suggest they give this talkSPORT radio clip a listen.