Home > Soccer/ Football > Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United: Kuyt strikes late winner

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United: Kuyt strikes late winner

A late strike by Dirk Kuyt in the 88th minute gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup Saturday at Anfield.

A goal kick from Pepe Reina was played long to Andy Carroll, who beat United defender Jonny Evans in the air. Carroll’s headed flick was played through to Kuyt who one-timed the ball past David de Gea to give Liverpool the winner. On the play, Kuyt easily escaped lazy marking by Patrice Evra, enabling the Dutchman to run onto Carroll’s flick unmarked. The goal was only Kuyt’s second in all competitions this season.

The tie seemed destined for a replay at Old Trafford, however. Daniel Agger’s header in the 21st minute was cancelled out by a powerful shot from Park Ji-Sung just 18 minutes later.

On Agger’s goal, poor marking from United on a corner gave the Dane more than enough space to head home Steven Gerrard’s in-swinging corner. De Gea, who had a tough game in goal, failed to establish himself physically on the play, failing to shove Carroll out of his way.

United would grab the equalizer in the 39th minute as a Liverpool side – employing birthday boy Jamie Carragher, 34, as a DM – started to sit deep, giving the Red Devils more space and time on the ball. RB Rafael da Silva made an overlapping onto Antonio Valencia’s backheel. Jose Enrique tried to make a tackle on the Brazilian, but da Silva got passed Enrique before playing a low cross into the box. Park met the low cross and fired a low, powerful shot passed Reina, who couldn’t get enough of a hand on it to keep the South Korean’s effort out.

Manchester United controlled large portions of the game, finishing the match with 57 percent of possession to Liverpool’s 43 percent. However, Liverpool tripled United’s shots on target, putting 9 efforts on target.

United’s control of the ball was largely down to Paul Scholes, who came back out of retirement a few weeks ago to help the Red Devils. In the first half alone, Scholes completed 73 of 75 passes.

Ultimately, substitutions from both sides changed the fate of the game.

Kenny Dalglish made his first changes in the 62nd minute, bringing on Kuyt and Charlie Adam for Maxi Rodriguez and Carragher respectively.

The move would prove a positive one for Liverpool, and not just because Dalglish brought on match-winner Kuyt. With a true CM in Adam, the Reds pushed higher up the pitch, giving United less space to work with.

Dalglish maxed out his substitutions – and perhaps raised some eyebrows – in the 72nd minute when he brought on Craig Bellamy for a tired Gerrard. Bellamy came on to occupy the role behind Carroll.

Sir Alex Ferguson made changes of his own in the 76th minute when Scholes was taken off for Javier Hernandez. United then moved to playing a 4-4-2 having started the match leaving Danny Welbeck isolated.

Taking off Scholes would be the deciding factor as Liverpool re-established a foothold in the match and snuck in a winner through Kuyt in the 88th minute.

A minute after Kuyt’s goal, Liverpool could have put the game to bed. Carroll ran onto a cross from Enrique at the far post, but his powerful header banged off the crossbar. The rebound fell just behind Kuyt, who tried to use the outside of his right foot, but his shot dribbled wide of de Gea’s goal.

Ferguson made another change in the 90th minute, taking off Ryan Giggs for Dimitar Berbatov. The substitution proved futile, however, as Liverpool would keep possession of the ball long enough by playing into United’s corner and shielding the ball from any Red Devils.

After the match, Ferguson said he “didn’t know” how United lost, claiming his side were the “better team” but hurt by a few made moments which Liverpool capitalized on.

“I don’t know how they lost it,” he told ITV1. “Just one breakaway, one bad break against you, and you can lose the game. It’s a sudden-death situation and we’ve experienced it many times over the years.

“It was a bad goal [Kuyt’s] because we didn’t deserve that. But I’m pleased with my players, they performed very well, dominated the game, didn’t deserve to be beaten at all in fact.

“We were the better team, but that’s FA Cup football I’m afraid,” Ferguson said.

Dalglish praised his side after a 2-2 draw with Manchester City eliminated the league leaders from the Carling Cup just 2 days prior to the FA Cup tie.

The week started badly for us at Bolton and it’s fantastic credit to the players and how much pride they take in this football club to get themselves back on track as quickly as they did,” Dalglish said. “It was a fantastic effort from our players after what they went through on Wednesday night. To ask them to come back and play on the Saturday morning was maybe pushing it a bit far but their commitment, their attitude and their desire to get a result was fantastic.

“I can’t speak highly enough of them after that performance and result today.”

Next up for Liverpool in the FA Cup is a fifth round clash at Anfield with Brighton Hove & Albion – a side the Reds struggled to beat 2-1 in the Carling Cup earlier this season.

Starting XI: Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Carragher; Downing, Gerrard (C), Henderson, Rodriguez; Carroll

Subs: Doni; Coates, Johnson; Shelvey, Adam; Kuyt, Bellamy

Man of the Match:  Andy Carroll. Carroll had a big part to play in both of Liverpool’s goals, and his link up play with his teammates was greatly improved. (Check out this YouTube video to see all of the No. 9’s touches.) Yesterday’s match was probably his best since his two-goal game against Manchester City last season. A special note to Jordan Henderson, who also had a very good game against United and played with a lot of fire and passion partnering Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park.

Needs to do better: Jose Enrique. Enrique has logged a ton of minutes this season, and perhaps the Spaniard is started to get a bit a tired. His play against United was sloppy at times, and his failure to tackle to da Silva on Park’s goal led to making the match tougher for Liverpool.

Side note: How much did the win matter to suspended striker Luis Suarez? Check out this .gif of him celebrating Kuyt’s winner:

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