Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) saw another defence today as champions Manchester United took on former champions Liverpool at Old Trafford.
It was widely regarded that nothing less than a win would do for Liverpool, with Rafael Benitez himself saying that should they not win, the title would be out of reach. The magnificent performance against Real Madrid in midweek had shown what Liverpool could do at their very best, and they were hoping for more of the same today.
Manchester United, on the other hand, were far from their best in midweek, despite beating Inter Milan 2-0. They knew that a win would effectively destroy Liverpool's last hopes of a title challenge, propelling themselves closer to a third-straight league title in the process.
United had a perfect record in the league since Christmas, and hadn't lost at Old Trafford all season going into this fixture. Both those records had been smashed in emphatic style by a rampant Liverpool side by the time of the full-time whistle, however.
United started the better, capitalizing on a late change forced on Rafa Benitez after Alvaro Arbeloa was injured in the pre-match warm-up and, after 22 minutes, were awarded a dubious penalty.
The referee judged that Pepe Reina had brought down Park Ji-Sung, but replays showed minimal contact as the keeper tried to pull out of the challenge. Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot-kick without a second thought.
Liverpool knew they could turn a 1-0 deficit against United into a win after doing so earlier in the season, but the likelihood of it actually happening was fairly small. No one told Fernando Torres, however, as he pounced on a rare Nemanja Vidic error to level the sides with a composed finish.
Just as it looked like the two sides were going into the break level, Torres slipped in a perfectly weighted ball to Steven Gerrard, who was brought down by Patrice Evra. Referee Alan Wiley pointed straight to the spot, another rare occurrence at Old Trafford, and Gerrard dusted himself off before coolly slotting the penalty away.
United fought back after the break, with Liverpool looking content to try and defend the slender lead. Some heart-stopping fumbles from Pepe Reina presented United with a couple of chances, but the Spanish goalkeeper always seemed to react just in time.
United came close again when Ronaldo's cross found Wayne Rooney at the back post, but his header flew across the face of the goal, with Carlos Tevez coming agonizingly close to making contact.
A triple change by Sir Alex Ferguson was soon all but nullified by another Vidic mistake, as he lost possession to Steven Gerrard before bringing him down. The resulting red card was inevitable, and Fabio Aurelio rubbed salt into the wound by curling in a sublime free-kick.
As on Tuesday against Madrid, the scoring was rounded off by Andrea Dossena, who lobbed Edwin Van Der Sar after the United defence failed to deal with Reina's long ball up-field.
The result is United's heaviest home defeat since they lost by the same scoreline against QPR on New Year's Day, 1992.
The match was United's ninth defence of the UWCC title, equalling Fulham's record. During their reign, they won 23 points, an average of 2.3 per game, scored 19 goals, an average of 1.9 goals per game, and conceded six times, an average of 0.6 goals per game.
Liverpool's win means they are the first side to have won the UWCC title twice, and they have already scored more goals this time than they did during their first reign. It completes a magnificent week for them, hitting four goals past both Real Madrid and Manchester United and conceding just one.
Just 25.9 percent of voters in the poll said that Liverpool would be able to beat United, so well done to the minority!
Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (Liverpool become new champions)
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Congratulations to Liverpool for becoming the first two-time champions of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship.Their first defence of their second title reign comes next Sunday as they host Aston Villa in the Premier League. Can Villa beat Liverpool to become the best side in the world?!