Manchester United vs. Liverpool: 5 Greatest Wins at Old Trafford

Terry CarrollContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2013

Manchester United vs. Liverpool: 5 Greatest Wins at Old Trafford

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    Rio Ferdinand doesn't score many goals, but scoring the winner for Manchester United vs. Liverpool at Old Trafford is something he will always remember.

    So will Gary Neville, who set off in the opposite direction to goad the Liverpool fans and received a £5,000 fine. Oh well, Liverpool's chief executive Rick Parry had previously been at the FA...

    That 2006 win came in January but turned out to be significant. Although United didn't win the title, they did pip Liverpool into third place by one point.

    The match was symptomatic of United's "never-say-die" spirit. Liverpool dominated the match from start to finish as United had a makeshift midfield of Ryan Giggs and John O'Shea. Eventually Darren Fletcher was moved into midfield, but Liverpool still looked to be the more likely winners.

    Until the 90th minute, when Ferdinand leaped high to blast a header past Pepe Reina from Giggs' free kick.

    It would also have been nice to include the 2-1 win in 1977 and especially the biggest win ever, 6-1, in 1928.

    You may have your own choices to add. Each of these wins has a theme, but sometimes the circumstances at the time make a match memorable.

    These selections are not listed in any particular order, so enjoy. And please suggest your own favourites. 

4/5/2003: United 4, Liverpool 0

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    In the 2001/02 season, United had finished third behind Arsenal and a resurgent Liverpool, so it was particularly pleasing to beat the Scousers twice the following season on the way to the title.

    The match we have chosen is one of United's biggest wins ever over the "old enemy."

    Referee not only gave United two penalties but sent off Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia for pulling down Ruud van Nistelrooy.

    Riley was obviously in a generous mood because the second penalty could be deemed dubious after a gentle pull by Biscan on Scholes.

    Scholes was running the match by now as Giggs added a third, and Solskjaer completed the rout.

    What makes this great, apart from the score, is that it completed a rare double over Liverpool.

1/1/1989: United 3, Liverpool 1

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    Among the first wave of "Fergie's Fledglings" were Lee Sharpe, Mark Robins and Russell Beardsmore, as Sir Alex followed in the footsteps of Sir Matt Busby in blooding young talent.

    This was Beardsmore's first season taking over for Gordon Strachan, who had gone to Leeds United. It was the last season that he seriously featured, but he will be remembered for this match, if nothing else.

    Liverpool were coming toward the end of their stellar era. They won the FA Cup in this season and their last League title the following year. 

    United meanwhile finished a dismal 11th with the Liverpool match being the high point from which they gradually declined until April. 

    But maybe this match on New Year's Day 1989 was the fuse that lit the fires of belief.

    Liverpool dominated much of the match until their inevitable goal from John Barnes on 70 minutes.

    Somehow this stung United into action. They started to turn the tables, and the game became much more open—as with so many of their comebacks since under Sir Alex.

    A minute later "Choccy" McClair equalised with a spectacular overhead kick, and then United were in dreamland as Hughes scored a second on 75 minutes.

    The 20-year-old Beardsmore had set up the first two goals and completed the scoring in 77 minutes. His star was in the ascendancy.

    Unfortunately, injuries, loss of form, the arrival of Paul Ince and Neil Webb and the rise of Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe meant this was the best it ever got for young Beardsmore. He played his 56th and final game for United in 1991/92.

1/24/1999: United 2, Liverpool 1

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    At the start of the 1995/96 season, Alan Hansen famously said of the "Class of 1992" team, "You'll win nothing with kids." won the title that year and beat Hansen's old team Liverpool in the FA Cup to win a memorable double.

    The same bunch of youngsters—older and more mature—won everything in 1998/99 of course, but they wouldn't have if not for another amazing comeback against Liverpool.

    Matches like this one are what makes the United vs. Liverpool rivalry so exciting. This is why it still reigns above the Manchester derby.

    Michael Owen had put Liverpool ahead within three minutes and, as Andy Gray says in commentary, it didn't seem to be United's day.

    Former United player Paul Ince had kicked the ball off (or over) the line, Roy Keane hit the post and the minutes ticked away.

    Finally Dwight Yorke scored on 88 minutes to start Sir Alex jumping around. Well into "Fergie time," Solskjaer—yes Solskjaer—scored the winner. You could hear the roar at the other end of the East Lancs road.

    It wasn't the only time United scored twice in the dying seconds that season...

3/23/2008: United 3, Liverpool 0

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    This was Cristiano Ronaldo's year. United completed yet another double with their League and Champions League wins.

    What was extra sweet was that they beat Chelsea to win both.

    Ronaldo was in the ascendancy, scoring 42 goals from just 46 starts, the sort of form he's been showing for Real Madrid since he left.

    He also scored in this match as United again did the double over their longtime rivals.

    The match was once again characterised by a refereeing controversy as is often the case in these clashes. This time it was Steve Bennett.

    Wes Brown opened the scoring with a rare success 10 minutes before half-time. Then Liverpool lost the plot.

    First, Torres was booked for too much backchat, and then Mascherano, Liverpool's midfield destroyer who had already been booked for a tackle, decided to weigh in with his opinions. Bennett had had enough and gave the Argentinian a second yellow, so off he went.

    In the end, United won comfortably against the Reds' 10 men. Ronaldo scored the second before Nani hit a spectacular strike two minutes later.

    An interesting thought is that theoretically eight of the players that day could feature on Sunday: Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs and Nani. Rooney also played but is likely to miss out due to injury.

    Unless Sir Alex is fooling us all.

    Only Reina, Skrtel and Gerrard are regular starters now for Liverpool. Rafa Benitez was their manager, of course.

    Times change.

9/19/2010: United 3, Liverpool 2

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    It is puzzling that everyone remembers Wayne Rooney's overhead goal against City but not Dimitar Berbatov's against Liverpool.

    All of the talk is of the Liverpool match being the biggest of the year in the buildup every time the two sides meet. 

    So this match should remind us of the greatness of a striker who put a big smile on our faces three years ago. As a finisher, he may have been technically better than Robin van Persie.

    He was sacrificed for the Dutchman in the summer, but it was always puzzling that he stopped getting the chances he deserved—especially as he should be a legend for what he did in this match.

    This was the first time a United player had scored a hat-trick against Liverpool in 64 years.

    Two of the goals were headers, but the overhead was simply sublime, showcasing the Bulgarian's silky first touch as he flicked it with his knee before volleying it backward into the goal. No question marks about shins this time...

    Once again it was comeback time.

    Berbatov's first two goals had put United well in command after less than an hour. Typically, it was captain Steven Gerrard who turned things round in just six minutes before Dimi sent the Stretford End into ecstasy with just six minutes to go.

    Some of us still wear his shirt. Others will remember the five goals against Blackburn.

    For those who really loved him, this was his finest hour.


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