There aren’t as many keenly anticipated fixtures as when Liverpool and Manchester United squabble, these North-East rivals always keeping their meeting in mind when the fixture calendar is released, and for the 2017-18 season, it’s scheduled for October the 14th. And in keeping with that upcoming clash, why not cast your minds back to five of the memorable meetings between these enemies:
Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool (FA Cup; January 1999)
It was the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in the new year of 1999 when these two rivals squared up at Old Trafford. Visitors Liverpool got off to the perfect start with a header from Michael Owen (who would eventually play for the Red Devils later in his career), the young striker’s second goal at the Theatre of Dreams in as many games. Try as they may, United seemed to find no way through in their search for an equaliser, seeing shot after shot being deflected wide, by either the Liverpool defenders or their goalie Brad Friedel; and the ones which beat Friedel either hit the frame of the goal or the side-netting. It looked for all like Liverpool would ride their luck and head to the Fifth Round, but in the dying embers of the game, goals from Dwight Yorke and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remarkably turned the game on its head, and United stole passage to Round Five, on their way to an unprecedented treble, even if they would encounter a few hiccups on the way…
Liverpool 2-2 Manchester United (Premier League; May 1999)
…one of those hiccups would come at Anfield four months after their domestic cup meeting, as United travelled to Liverpool aiming to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal with the season coming to a close. They took the lead thanks to a Yorke header in the first half, and that advantage was doubled after Jesper Blomqvist was caught by Jamie Carragher, and Denis Irwin converted the resulting penalty. Liverpool would be handed a lifeline with 13 minutes left, Blomqvist going from victim to culprit as he was deemed guilty of fouling Oyvind Leonhardsen in the box, and Jamie Redknapp made no mistake with the spot-kick. And the Reds would complete the comeback in the last minute, as a goalmouth scramble resulted in former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince bundling home the equaliser. United manager Alex Ferguson claimed the referee ‘handed it to them’ after the game, although he would have the last laugh at the end of the month.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League; December 2002)
‘Three games to finish off Fergie’, wrote a certain newspaper after Manchester United had started the season in indifferent form and their next three league fixtures were against Newcastle United (they were formidable that time), Liverpool and champions Arsenal (also, that time). United negotiated the Newcastle game with a resounding 5-3 win, and next up, on December the 1st, was a trip to Anfield. A seemingly drab affair was lightened up just after the hour mark, when Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek let Jamie Carragher’s headed back pass slip from underneath him, and a grateful Diego Forlan rolled the ball into an unguarded net. Forlan was at it again three minutes later, this time his fierce shot from close range was too much for Dudek. Liverpool grabbed a goal back late on from skipper Sami Hyypia, but it no more than scant consolation. United would win the game against Arsenal as well, and lift the Premier League crown come the end of the season, while Liverpool, despite beating the Red Devils in the League Cup final in February, missed out on the top four after a final day defeat to Chelsea.
Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (Premier League; March 2009)
Seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, log leaders Manchester United hosted the Reds, whose manager Rafa Benitez had already sparked bedlam with his ‘facts’ press conference over a month earlier, and took the lead after 23 minutes through Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty after Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina fouled Park Ji-Sung in the penalty area. That lead only lasted five minutes though, as Fernando Torres pounced on some dallying by Nemanja Vidic to equalise for the Reds. On the stroke of half-time the visitors would go in front, Liverpool this time given a penalty of their own after a foul by Patrice Evra on Steven Gerrard, and the latter stroked home from 12 yards. It went from bad to worse for United in the second half, as Vidic was sent off for a foul on Gerrard, and Fabio Aurelio sent the resulting free-kick into the top corner. Andrea Dossena added the gloss on the scoreline for Liverpool with an audacious lob in stoppage time, even if the result would ultimately matter little as United eventually walked off with the Premier League title, their third in a row.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League; March 2015)
The plotlines were more than obvious in this one, as Liverpool hosted Manchester United with two points separating the Reds from the Red Devils in the race for the top four, and it was also going to be the last North-East derby for Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, the skipper announcing his decision to leave the club for Major League Soccer come the end of the season in January. A dominant first half from United go into the break in front, Juan Mata’s well-taken goal the difference between both sides. Gerrard was thrown on right after the restart, but he would last just 50 seconds, as he was sent off for a stamp on Ander Herrera. United took advantage of their numerical superiority and Mata doubled the lead with an acrobatic finish midway through the second period. Daniel Sturridge’s deflected effort halved the deficit for Liverpool, but United held on for the win, and could even afford to see their captain Wayne Rooney fail to score from 12 yards.