Ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United on Monday, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from previous encounters. Some good, some bad, all depending on which side of the fence you sit…
Gerrard sees red mist
Trailing 1-0 to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side in March 2015, Brendan Rodgers introduced Steven Gerrard for Adam Lallana at the start of the second half. Cometh the hour, cometh the man? Not this time. Instead, Gerrard followed up a wholehearted challenge on goalscorer Juan Mata with a blatant stamp on midfielder Ander Herrera. A red card was shown to the Reds legend, who had only lasted a staggering 38 seconds after coming onto the pitch as a half-time substitute.
Gerrard’s inexcusable behaviour was further highlighted as Mata added a superb second only 14 minutes later. Daniel Sturridge took some of the gloss off United’s performance when he beat David de Gea with a shot at his near post that the Spaniard should have dealt with, and the Reds looked surprisingly galvanised with ten men, playing some of their best stuff without the departed Gerrard. Despite the unnecessary sending-off, United’s performance and Mata’s magic were solely responsible for the result, not Gerrard’s cameo role.
“I’ve got to accept it, the decision was right,” said Gerrard, who asked to be interviewed by Sky Sports immediately after the match. “I’ve let my team-mates, manager and more importantly the supporters down and I take full responsibility for that.
“I think I’ve tried to avoid his tackle and I’ve reacted when I’ve seen his studs showing. But I’ve been in the game long enough to know, when you do that with 45 minutes to play and a great opportunity to get back into the game, I take full responsibility.”
Cantona match-winning goal in 1996 FA Cup final
French icon and Manchester United legend Eric Cantona went down in football folklore in the 1996 FA Cup final when his late goal clinched the trophy for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. The Frenchman was seeking redemption after an eight-month ban and assault charge after his infamous kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan in 1995. He had already gone a long way to restoring supporters’ faith by helping the club to the Premier League title with 14 goals. However, the goal to win a cup final against their arch rivals was a sure-fire way to be remembered forever.
The goal itself wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing he has ever scored (see Sunderland chip in 1996) but it ensured he would leave a lasting mark. In the 85th minute of a torrid affair at Wembley, Cantona volleyed the ball through a penalty area full of players and into the net after he had latched onto a poor clearance from Liverpool keeper David James.
“The goal in the FA Cup final against Liverpool is my greatest ever. I volleyed home the winning goal,” Cantona said recently at a meet and greet session with fans.
“You should ask Liverpool fans whether I ever had a poor game against their team. United always won.”
Suarez refuses to shake Evra’s hand
In 2011, Luis Suarez was handed an eight-game ban and fined £40,000 by the Football Association after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a 1-1 draw at Anfield on 15 October.
But it wasn’t to end there, as the pair met again in a fiery encounter at Old Trafford on 11 February 2012. Suarez, who denied the allegations, refused to shake the French defender’s hand ahead of the fixture. Evra tried to grab his arm to complete the formalities but the Uruguayan striker shook him off, leading to Rio Ferdinand snubbing Suarez. Once the playground behaviour had subsided, United went on to win the match 2-1 and Evra milked the applause at the end of the match. I mean, really milked it! He went back and forth from one side of the Stretford End to the other waving his arms in the air. No problem with that, until he deliberately did it in front of Suarez as he trudged off the pitch.
“Suarez is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club,” said United manager Ferguson after the game. “He should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. He could have caused a riot.”
Liverpool boss at the time Kenny Dalglish said: “I think you’re bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today.”
That Gary Neville celebration
Like any fan playing for the club they supported as a boy, you would find it hard not to get carried away celebrating a last-minute winner against one of your rivals. Gary Neville quite rightly went crackers when Rio Ferdinand headed a 90th-minute winner in a 1-0 win over Rafa Benitez’s side in 2006. However, Neville went that bit too far, running over to the Liverpool away end to gesticulate and grab his shirt in front of their fans.
Neville, who was taunted by the Reds fans throughout the game, was widely condemned for his actions and fined £5000 by the Football Association. However, PFA deputy chief executive Mick McGuire stuck up for Neville, saying: “It was a sign of passion and commitment to his club.”
At the time Neville refused to apologise for his celebration, saying: “I would have been apologetic if I had run up to one of their players and tried to belittle them but this was a celebration. You are caught up in the moment and for a few seconds you can go bananas.”
And it seems 10 years on not much has changed: “For 89 minutes, the travelling Liverpool fans had been singing unprintable songs about me and my mum,” Neville said recently.
“I looked at the faces of all those fans who had been singing, and in that moment, they had no answer. Absolutely no answer. It was one of the best feelings of my life. The FA fined me £5,000 for my actions. I’d gladly pay it again a hundred times.”
The Dirk Kuyt hat-trick
It’s some achievement scoring a hat-trick against your arch-rivals and Dirk Kuyt did just that in a 3-1 Liverpool win over Manchester United in 2011. However, the Dutchman’s three goals had a less-than-perfect feel about them.
The first goal after 34 minutes was more about Luis Suarez’s incredible trickery, going past three players to put it on a plate for Kuyt. Then a shambolic piece of defending from Nani gift-wrapped Kuyt an easy second. The Portuguese winger inadvertently nodded the ball straight into the path of the Netherlands international, who made no mistake from less than six yards. On 65 minutes, Kuyt had his third, after Van der Sar fumbled a Suarez free-kick to the former Utrecht man and he made no mistake with a poacher’s finish.
Take nothing away from Kuyt, his treble was the first by a Liverpool player against Manchester United since Peter Beardsley in 1990…definitely something for Kuyt to tell the grandkids. Just don’t show them that three goals were scored from a total of about six yards.