Rafa Benitez enjoyed victory in his 200th game in charge of Liverpool as Fernando Torres and David Ngog scored the goals which gave his side a sweet victory of arch rivals Man United at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
Torres opened the scoring by outmuscling Rio Ferdinand from a beautiful through ball by Yossi Benayoun. The Spaniard held off Ferdinand to rifle the ball past van Der Saar at the Kop end from close range.
The drama intensified when Michael Owen came on for the Mancs and Nemanja Vidic was dismissed late on for the third consecutive time in a Liverpool-United fixture, again for two bookings.
With five minutes added time, Javier Mascherano followed Vidic for an early dismissal after sliding in on van Der Saar for his second booking. But a minute later David Ngog was put through by Lucas Leiva and the young Frenchman held his nerve to double the lead and secure the win in the dieing seconds.
Liverpool, under huge pressure going into the game on the back of four straight defeats and missing their captain Steven Gerrard, enjoyed greater possesion and created more chances. The first half saw Fabio Aurelio causing problems and almost scoring with a header from a Benayoun cross. Benayoun also went close on several occasions and his vision was a key role in the Reds attack.
Benitez opted to deploy Dirk Kuyt up front alongside Torres with Benayoun on the right of an orthodox 442. Mascherano and Lucas patrolled the midfield, snuffing out United’s play. Lucas in particular had a superb game. Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher also had outstanding performances in the heart of the defence.
The celebrations at the end saw Pepe Reina sprint the length of the pitch to congratulate Ngog on his goal as the relief and joy filled Anfield.
Team Line-Ups & Substitutions
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Aurelio, Benayoun (Skrtel 90+2), Torres (Ngog 80).
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Voronin, Babel, Spearing, Degen.
Manchester Utd: van Der Saar, O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Scholes (Nani 74), Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov (Owen 74).
Subs not used: Foster, Neville, Anderson, Fabio, Evans.
Referee: Andre Marriner