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Monday 24 September 2012

Ferguson's relief after Robin van Persie strikes late

Manchester United come from behind to beat 10-man Liverpool in an emotional day at Anfield

  • Rafael Da Silva and Robin van Persie were Manchester United's goalscorers at Anfield

  • There were various tributes for the Hillsborough victims inside and outside Anfield

Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson was relieved to emerge from Anfield with three points after a late penalty from Robin van Persie earned Manchester United a 2-1 victory against 10-man Liverpool.

After ceremonies in which both teams paid tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989, it was Liverpool who dominated the first half. However, their task was made more difficult when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a foul on Jonny Evans on 38 minutes.

A minute after the break, the man disadvantage did not appear to matter as Steven Gerrard steered in a shot inside the area, but the lead lasted only five minutes. Rafael Da Silva advanced into the Liverpool area and curled a left-foot shot into the far corner.

Liverpool still created chances but on 81 minutes were caught on the counter-attack and a retreating Glen Johnson brought down Luis Antonio Valencia to concede a penalty that Van Persie converted. Ferguson welcomed the three points that returned his side to second place in the Barlcays Premier League table.

"I thought we were poor," the United manager said. "Over the last four years we have allowed the [Anfield] crowd to get at us a little bit. They gave fantastic support to their team and they dominated.

"We haven't played well here for the past four years and we can do better but at least we got a result. It is a turning point for us. We played better in the second half but it was against 10 men and Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs' experience got us through."

Ferguson was also pleased his side had broken their duck from the spot after three misses – including one from Van Persie - this season so far.

"It wasn't easy for Robin," Ferguson said. "He took it well. It was the way he envisaged he would."

The United manager also praised the behaviour of Liverpool, their fans and his club’s supporters over the ceremonies commemorating the Hillsborough disaster.

"Liverpool did a fantastic job today, the fans were terrific and I don't think there can be any complaint on that part," Ferguson said. "It was a nice touch Bobby Charlton giving the bouquet to Ian Rush and it demonstrates these two clubs can do things with unity and then we got on with the game. There was ferocity and it was intense and it has been a good day for football."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was disappointed not to emerge with a point after hailing how his team performed, especially with 10 men in the wake of Shelvey’s red card.

"I thought the players were heroic in terms of performance and the spirit," Rodgers said. "They were brilliant and didn't get what they deserved.

"We are bitterly disappointed with the result, I thought the best team lost. The performance level up to 65 minutes or so was outstanding."

Rodgers also had praise for the way the pre-match ceremonies were greeted in the Anfield stands.

"The supporters were absolutely phenomenal," he said. "It was a significant day and the respect which was shown both teams, and with everyone shaking hands, and just moving forward is important.

"People who value human decency and humanity will have been proud today because it is important we move on from a lot of the negative stuff. As two massive clubs we have an obligation to society and to football to show respect because we are at the leading edge of the game. People will look into this today and go away with great hope."

For a report, the best photos from the day and statistics, click on the link below.

Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United >>

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Key Points

  • United manager happy to beat Liverpool despite side struggling at Anfield
  • Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers unhappy performance not merited with win
  • Both manager hail pre-match ceremonies for those who died at Hillsborough