Our Seventh League Cup
Ian Rush once commented ‘œBeating United is always extra special. To do it in a major cup final is out of this world. But to do it when you are the underdogs and everybody is predicting a United victory goes beyond words.’ On Sunday 2nd March 2003, goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory over rivals Manchester United infront of over 75,000 spectators in the Worthington Cup final in Cardiff.
Both sides fielded their strongest line-ups under the closed roof of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. The opening stages were sterile, with both sides sparring and little goalmouth action but United almost broke the deadlock after 21 minutes following a typical sweeping move, a Ryan Giggs cross was toe-poked inches wide of the far post by the lurking Ruud van Nistelrooy. Then Michael Owen had a great chance to open the scoring only for his shot to be saved by Fabien Barthez.
Then, just six minutes before the interval, Liverpool took the lead through Steven Gerrard. Gerrard recieved possession thirty yards out from John Arne Riise, and took full advantage of Beckham’s failure to close him down to fire in a shot from 25 yards which took a crucial deflection off the England captain and looped over Barthez.
United had a wonderful opportunity to level the score just before half time, when Dudek first blocked Juan Sebastian Veron’s shot, but the rebound fell to Scholes, whose goalbound block was turned over the bar by Stephane Henchoz from virtually under the crossbar. Straight after the half time interval, United continued to search for the equaliser, with Jerzy Dudek again coming to Liverpool rescue as he flung himself full length to deny van Nistelrooy twice, as well as Scholes.
Chances came at both ends with Gerrard denied by Barthez, while Scholes was denied by Dudek. However,it was Liverpool and Michael Owen who scored the all important final goal when Dietmar Hamann released Owen at full pace into the penalty area unleashing a shot past Barthez to seal the victory.
But the real hero was keeper Jerzy Dudek, Dudek made a string of fine saves to deny both Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy an equaliser as Liverpool collected the League Cup for a record seventh time.
“Beating United is always extra special but to do it in a major cup final is out of this world.” Down through the Premier League years we’ve witnessed many memorable matches and goals involving Liverpool and Manchester United, from Neil Ruddock’s header in the 3-3 draw during the 93/94 season to Danny Murphys delightful goal during the 2001/02 season, while who can forget Riise thunderbolt free kick or Fowler’s sensational equaliser during the 95/96 season to Dossena’s delightful goal this season…..
What is your most memorable Liverpool – Manchester United moment or goal over the years? Maybe its the 5-2 win at old Trafford back in 1936 or maybe its the 1983 League Cup Final or the 2-2 draw in 1985, or this seasons 4-1 win at Old Trafford…..
Let us know in the comments below…