Liverpool have tasted victory five times at Old Trafford in Premier League history, but it’s not always been the victories that have provided classic moments, as Simon Collings recalls.
As it’s that time of year when Liverpool travel to arch rivals Manchester United this weekend, many Reds fans will once again be nervously excited at the prospect of either a victory or defeat.
With the Reds’ last outing being that appalling 3-0 home defeat to West Ham two weeks ago, we’ve all had the privilege of an international break to prolong the agony. Now it’s over, Brendan Rodgers and co. have their sights firmly set on restoring some pride.
Going to Old Trafford is never easy, but with both sides struggling in the league this year we could be in for a scrappy affair (good luck to Sky then in promoting the fixture!). They say in football playing your arch rivals next is the ideal tonic in getting one’s season back on track. As this applies to both sides, one manager is certain of being under huge pressure come the final whistle.
Right now, most of us (including the managers) would take a draw.
Strangely, Liverpool have seldom had many draws recently at United in the Premier League era – the last being in March 2000, when Patrik Berger scored a sublime free-kick in a 1-1 stalemate. There’s never been a 0-0 either.
Since then it’s been a winning result each time.
Although United have had the majority of victories, Liverpool too have had their moments over the years. Each of us will have our own personal favourites but here are some Old Trafford Premier League moments to savour…
Rush breaks Hunt’s record – Oct 1992
In what was the fixture’s first ever Premier League meeting, goal scoring legend Ian Rush broke Roger Hunt’s long-standing record by putting the Reds 2-0 up just before the break.
Although the game ended 2-2, Rush’s moment of history was something to savor. In netting his 287th goal he was now out in front in the all-time list. It was a typical Rush goal – an instinctive close-range finish after good work by Ronny Rosenthal down the left.
Although Rush himself would have preferred to have got the record at home in front of the Kop, breaking it at Old Trafford (or even Goodison) would have been the next best thing.
Will his final goal tally of 346 ever be broken? Doesn’t look like it.
LFC XI: Grobbelaar, Marsh, Burrows, Nicol, Piechnik, Hutchinson, McManaman, Redknapp, Molby, Rush, Rosenthal.
Fowler silences Cantona’s comeback – Oct 1995
It was billed as the Messiah’s return to action but our very own God had other ideas in this entertaining 2-2 draw.
Although Cantona did have an impact on the score line, it was Fowler’s world-class double which silenced the Old Trafford faithful.
His first was an unstoppable strike from acute angle past Peter Schmeichel, his second was a sublime chip after outmuscling Gary Neville.
At the time, sections of the Old Trafford ground were being re-built, which therefore allowed no room for away fans. So, as both Fowler goals went in, you could hear a pin drop around the stadium.
Both strikes must surely rank among Fowler’s best ever for the club.
LFC XI: James, McAteer, Scales, Babb, Ruddock, Harkness, Redknapp, Thomas, McManaman, Rush, Fowler.
Owen scores, then is sent-off – April 1998
In what was the season that introduced the young striker to the footablling world, Michael Owen raced onto a Danny Murphy flick-on – out-pacing United’s aging backline – to dink over into the back of the net for his 20th goal of the season.
For someone so young it was a cool and composed finish. However, with his adrenaline pumping, the teenage striker mistimed a challenge on Ronny Johnsen soon after and was shown his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
The Reds held on for a well-earned 1-1 draw whilst Owen learnt a valuable lesson.
LFC XI: Friedel, Jones, Babb, Matteo, Harkness, McMananaman, Redknapp, Ince, Murphy, Leonhardsen, Owen.
Murphy’s free kick – Dec 2000
Danny Murphy’s sweet free kick earned Gerard Houllier’s men their first win at Old Trafford in more than a decade.
In a memorable, treble-winning campaign, Murphy’s cute effort just before the break was the start of things to come as the Reds went from strength to strength that year – smashing Arsenal 4-0 less than a week later.
It was an impressive display from the Reds, who looked solid as a unit throughout.
Thanks to Murphy’s magic, this long overdue victory at Old Trafford (coupled with an equally impressive 2-0 win at Anfield) ensured Liverpool did the league double over United for the first time in twenty-two years.
LFC XI: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Murphy, Gerrard, Biscan, Barmby, Owen, Heskey.
The 4-1 thrashing – March 2009
Was this our finest ever Premier League result? It’s certainly up there. In a season which so very nearly saw us crowned Premier League champions, this thrashing over United made Liverpool (albeit briefly) slight favorites for the league.
After Ronaldo had opened the scoring from the spot, Gerrard and Torres took control – tearing the United backline (and in particular Nemanja Vidic) to pieces.
Torres equalised with a cool finish, Stevie then put us ahead after being brought down in area, Fabio Aurelio put victory in sight with a clinical free kick, and then Andrea Dossena put the cherry on top with a lob Johan Cruyff would have been proud of.
The score line didn’t flatter the Reds at all as it could have been more.
Liverpool inflicted another heavy defeat on United at Old Trafford in 2014 – with a 3-0 win. That season United where a shambles under David Moyes, yet back in ’09 they were a great side – perhaps their last great side under Ferguson.
Rafa’s men proved that year they were equal and should have pipped them to the Premier League title. If only…
LFC XI: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Hyypia, Aurelio, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Riera, Gerrard, Torres.