Rafael Benitez can now claim sweet revenge against his rival Sir Alex Ferguson as his Liverpool side defeated Manchester United at home 4-1 today, making this his second triumph of the current Premier League season over the Scot.
In September, United traveled to Liverpool for the first leg of the derby and despite taking an early lead, were eventually defeated 2-1, which was their last defeat of the current campaign until today, their first since then.
Both teams came into today's match filled confidence from their midweek victories in the Champions League, qualifying them for the quarterfinals.
Manchester United began pressuring Liverpool early on in the game, winning a corner only 44 seconds into the match. In the third minute, United almost scored when Cristiano Ronaldo crossed the ball in from the right to Ji-Park, who failed to finish. In the 22nd minute, Park was fouled in the box by Pepe Reina and it was Ronaldo who converted the penalty into a goal in the 23rd minute.
But Liverpool were not to be denied, when only six minutes later, because of a terrible error by Nemanja Vidic, Fernando Torres was able to steal the long pass from Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel and run past him to face down Edwin van der Sar alone and slot the ball home to level the match.
Liverpool were to win a penalty of their own when Patrice Evra brought down Steven Gerrard, who then converted his chance into a goal to take the lead in the 44th minute.
In the second half, despite United's dominance, they were unable to finish their opportunities. In the 57th minute, Carlos Tevez just missed knicking the ball into the net off of a corner, and in the 61st minute Rooney's shot on goal was deflected for a corner.
Two minutes later, Ronaldo crossed from the right into Rooney, who flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot across the face of the goal and Tevez just missed connecting to level the match. Tevez's bad luck continued in the 71st minute when he missed from just in front of the goal.
Ferguson brought on his reliables, Paul Scholes for Anderson, Dimitar Berbatov for Park, and Ryan Giggs for Michael Carrick, to try and salvage a victory, but it was not enough to stop Liverpool. Another misfortune for Sir Alex's men came when Vidic, already booked earlier in the game, was booked again and sent off for pulling down Steven Gerrard by his jersey in the 76th minute.
The free kick that resulted from this foul was converted into a goal by Fabio Aurelio, a shot that left van der Sar standing still on his line and looking at the ball as it flew past him into his net.
In the 88th minute, Berbatov's low shot hit the left post. In the final minute of the match, Andrea Dossena scored for Liverpool, granting Rafa Benitez revenge again Sir Alex Ferguson for overtaking his men at the turn of the year. However, Manchester United still sit at the top of the table and four points ahead of Benitez's squad, and with a game in hand against Portsmouth, may be able to clear the field behind them again.
The rivalry between these two men and their clubs may continue into the Champions League quarterfinals, as they will both find out who they are drawn against this Friday.
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