Mark Gonzalez was on target again as Liverpool Legends came from behind to beat Man United 2-1 in an entertaining charity match at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool Legends 2-1 Man United Legends (5-2 on aggregate)
Legends of the North (2), Anfield
September 24, 2022
Berbatov 7′ (assist: Campbell)
Gonzalez 47′ (assist: Keane)
After a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, sung by many attending Anfield for the first time, Man United started quickly and opened the scoring thanks to a fantastic volley by Dimitar Berbatov.
Liverpool got going after that, and Alonso began to spray passes in the middle, controlling the game in Steven Gerrard’s usual Legends-team position.
Another of Liverpool’s ‘best midfield in the world’ was involved as well. Though the match was well-mannered in aid of the LFC Foundation, Momo Sissoko, who was doing the lion’s share of the midfield’s running, showed there was no love lost when he gave Berbatov a cheeky nudge in the back after the Kop had jovially booed the United team’s arrival.
To the crowd’s enjoyment, tackles continued to fly in, but Bjorn Tore Kvarme became the first victim and was forced off early on after being caught by a sliding challenge.
Roy Keane wasn’t even on the pitch yet!
Liverpool continued to attack and Aurelio was the next to shoot from distance. He sliced his effort well wide, though, and was swiftly sent back to the halfway line by his captain, Alonso.
There was very nearly a moment of sheer brilliance at the end of the first half when Alonso floated a pinpoint ball in behind towards Maxi Rodriguez, who, from an angle, flew through the air and volleyed across goal only to just miss the far post.
Half time: Liverpool Legends 0-1 Man United Legends
There were eight changes made at half-time by the management team of Sir Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and John Aldridge.
They made an immediate impact after the break, with Robbie Keane, making his Legends debut, calmly finding Gonzalez who finished first-time into the bottom corner, restoring the Reds’ two-goal aggregate lead that he had helped bring about, netting twice in a 3-1 win at Old Trafford in May.
The Mark Gonzalez goal that brought LFC Legends level ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 24, 2022
Djimi Traore’s start wasn’t as positive. Seconds after coming on, he clattered into an opposition player in typical Traore fashion and received a yellow card for the foul.
If the Malian’s clumsiness wasn’t enough, there was plenty more nostalgia for the fans to enjoy, including the sight of Martin Skrtel putting his head where it hurts. He was forced off after an hour following an aerial clash with Kevin Pilkington.
Update on the Slovak’s hair, he’s got lots and it’s disconcerting, to say the least.
The tempo became more leisurely as the game wore on but Sander Westerveld managed to stay alert and produce a fantastic save, flying to his left to tip a Ronny Johnsen header beyond the post. The hush gave way, though, when Roy Keane and Denis Irwin ran on to a din of boos.
The two old boys couldn’t help defensively though when Florent Sinama-Pongolle latched onto a loose ball near the penalty spot and dispatched it into the bottom corner. His celebration was a wild one that ended in Klopp-like fist pumps in front of the Kop.
Sinama-Pongolle’s sidefooted finish turned out to be the winner in the game, giving the Anfield attendees cause for celebration on the final whistle. There were smiles all around and the final figure raised from the match will be released in the coming days.
TIA Man of the Match: Xabi Alonso
Referee: Peter Banks
Liverpool Legends: Dudek, Kvarme, Henchoz, Skrtel, Vignal, Sissoko, Downing, Alonso (C), Rodriguez, Le Tallec, Voronin
Subs: Westerveld, Diao, Aurelio, Traore, Gonzalez, Riera, Johnson, Keane, Sinama-Pongolle, Garcia
Manchester United Legends: Van Der Gouw, Valencia, Stam, Johnsen, Pugh, Poborsky, Fletcher, Carrick (C), Gibson, Campbell, Berbatov
Subs: Pilkington, Irwin, Blackmore, Brown, Keane, Djemba Djemba