FA Cup 4th round
Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United



Kuyt, who netted a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United last season, scores the late winner which was his 50th goal for Liverpool



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Anfield 

Dirk Kuyt's late strike earned Liverpool a dramatic victory over a whimpering Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round at Anfield.

The tie seemed destined for a replay at Old Trafford on Monday week as Ji-Sung Park's powerful shot put United level after Daniel Agger had headed Liverpool into the lead- but there was a late twist to a surprisingly flat encounter when Liverpool substitute Kuyt escaped the attentions of Patrice Evra with two minutes left to latch on to Andy Carroll's flick and fire past United goalkeeper David De Gea in front of an ecstatic Kop to take them through to a another home tie in the fifth round with Championship newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion.

It capped a perfect four days for Liverpool and manager Kenny Dalglish after reaching the Carling Cup final and their first Wembley appearance since 1996 at the expense of Manchester City on Wednesday, then sending their fierce rivals out of the FA Cup to reach the last sixteen of the competition.  

Liverpool made four changes from the team that started against City in the League Cup semi-final second leg with Andy Carroll, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly and Maxi Rodriguez reinstated. Manchester United were without Wayne Rooney as he recovered from knee and ankle injuries while David De Gea was restored in goal with Anders Lindegaard dropping to the bench from the side which recorded a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League last Sunday. Phil Jones and Nani remained absent through injury while Anderson and Rio Ferdinand were rested with slight problems of their own in the injury department.

The backdrop to the game was the incident involving Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Evra in the Premier League game at Anfield in October that led to the Uruguayan being banned for eight games by the Football Association for racially abusing the United defender. And despite pleas for calm, Evra was jeered loudly by Liverpool's supporters every time he took possession of the ball.



The 2-1 victory for Liverpool means that the last six meetings between the two great rivals in the FA Cup have been settled by a one-goal margin.


The result means Manchester United have now failed to win at Anfield since 2007 and manager Sir Alex Ferguson saw a gamble on starting with the young Spaniard David De Gea in goal fail to reap dividends as the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper endured a desperate afternoon.

He failed to command his area for Agger's opener then brought pressure on United in the second half with his inability to complete a simple clearance in his area and mishandling that did nothing to ease mounting Liverpool pressure. De Gea was in action in the third minute as he dived to his right to turn away Maxi Rodriguez's shot at mid-height from the edge of the box as Liverpool attempted to take control early on.

It was United, however, who dominated possession with Paul Scholes the orchestrator of a game that was played at a tempo that suited Ferguson's side. Another ageing stalwart Ryan Giggs tested Pepe Reina with a low shot and the dangerous Antonio Valencia struck the outside of an upright- but it was Liverpool who took the lead after 21 minutes.

United goalkeeper De Gea was unable to make his presence felt in the company of the tall figure of Andy Carroll from Steven Gerrard's pacy corner allowing centre-half Agger to take advantage of the uncertainty to head home.

Liverpool went into a retreating mode after scoring which allowed United to enjoy a lengthy spell of possession that concluded with Park's leveller six minutes before the interval. Jose Enrique should have dealt with a ball into the corner, but he hesitated and allowed Rafael to cross for Park to thump a powerful finish into the bottom corner beyond Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, who had no chance of saving it.



Manchester United have still only lost four times in their last twenty-two away FA Cup games and were defeated last by Liverpool in 2006 in the fifth round at Anfield.


Martin Skrtel had to be alert after the restart to rescue Liverpool after Danny Welbeck flicked a pass past Reina towards an unguarded goal which the Slovakian turned aside to safety. 

Liverpool were being offered hope by the uncertainty of United keeper De Gea, who put his defence under pressure when he failed to complete a simple clearance then allowed a cross to slip through his hands to needlessly concede a corner.

Dalglish then used his substitutes in quick succession, sending on Charlie Adam and Dirk Kuyt for Maxi Rodriguez and Jamie Carragher before throwing former Manchester City star Craig Bellamy into the fray in place of tiring captain Steven Gerrard with 18 minutes left in the hope of injecting some vigour into their play and push on for the winner.

It prompted Ferguson to make a change of his own as Javier Hernandez took the place of Paul Scholes, who had barely wasted a pass in any area of the pitch. In his absence, Liverpool were able to pen United back towards their own goal and the winning strike came with just two minutes left.

Reina's clearance was flicked on by the physical presence of Andy Carroll and Patrice Evra lost sight of Kuyt, allowing the striker to beat De Gea with a low shot in front an exultant Kop. Kuyt could have made it 3-1 moments later when Carroll crashed a header against the angle of post and crossbar but the striker stabbed the rebound wide.

It made no difference as there was no way back for Manchester United, who knocked Liverpool out of last season's competition in the third round at Old Trafford, in the time that remained as they were knocked out meaning they the most successful side in the history of the FA Cup have now not won the trophy in eight years.



Saturday 28th January 2012

FA Cup Fourth Round



Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United                             KO 12:45pm                   (HT 1-1)

Agger 21       Park 39
Kuyt 88

Liverpool:  25 Reina- 6.5/10, 23 Carragher- 6/10 (Kuyt 63- 4.5/10), 37 Skrtel- 7/10, 5 Agger- 7.5/10, 3 Jose Enrique- 7/10, 34 Kelly- 7/10, 14 Henderson- 6.5/10, 8 Gerrard (C)- 7/10 (Bellamy 72- 3/10), 11 Maxi- 6.5/10 (Adam 63- 3.5/10), 19 Downing- 6/10, 9 Carroll- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  32 Doni, 2 Johnson, 16 Coates, 33 Shelvey

Booked:       None


Manchester United:  1 De Gea- 5.5/10, 21 Rafael- 6/10, 12 Smalling- 6.5/10, 6 Evans- 6.5/10, 3 Evra (C)- 6/10, 25 Valencia- 7.5/10, 16 Carrick- 6.5/10, 22 Scholes- 8/10 (Hernandez 76- 2.5/10), 13 Park- 7/10, 11 Giggs- 7/10 (Berbatov 90+1- 1/10), 19 Welbeck- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  34 Lindegaard, 5 Ferdinand, 20 Fabio, 38 M Keane, 42 Pogba

Booked:       Rafael (65)


My Man of the Match:   Paul Scholes (Manchester United)- Rating 8/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   David De Gea (Manchester United)- Rating 5.5/10



Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)- 9/10
Attendance: 43,952 



Match Facts

Possession: Liverpool- 43%                      Manchester United- 57%

Shots: Liverpool- 14                           Manchester United- 9

Shots on target: Liverpool- 9                      Manchester United- 3

Shots off target: Liverpool- 5                      Manchester United- 6

Corners: Liverpool- 5                         Manchester United- 1

Fouls: Liverpool- 11                       Manchester United- 9

Offside: Liverpool- 2                           Manchester United- 1

Assists: Liverpool- 2 (Gerrard, Carroll)                     Manchester United- 1 (Rafael)



Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

"It was a fantastic effort from our players after what they had to do on Wednesday night. Their commitment, attitude and desire to get the result was fantastic. We will see how important this week is in our season. It started badly against Bolton but we have come out on the winning side in two really important cup games. We hung in there at times when United had a lot of the possession, we didn't try and rob it off them immediately and tire ourselves out and then Dirk Kuyt gets his 50th goal for the club to win the game against Manchester United which cannot get much better for him- so we're delighted. I think our season is now back on track if you like following the disappointing result and performance against Bolton last weekend- after securing one cup final in midweek and the win today, I see no reason why we cannot go all the way in this competition as well. They were well-behaved (the fans) and a great advert for their clubs. I think both sets of fans were magnificent ambassadors for their clubs. There was a bit of banter but it was mainly friendly and that's the way it should be. The fans are entitled to support their teams. The players were a credit as well. They and the fans contributed to a great occasion. A bit of banter is fine, I don't think there was anything untoward in terms of the booing towards Patrice Evra. But as I said, the week started badly for us at Bolton, but it's a fantastic credit to the players and how much pride they take in the club that they've got themselves back on track. They've come out on the right side of two huge cup games."



Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

"I don’t know how we lost it, it was a really good performance by us dominant in possession but just lacked the cutting edge at times and we didn't create enough chances to score goals. However we definitely merited more. But I think when you look at it in the context of the FA Cup things like that can happen. One break away, one bad break against you, and you can lose a game just like that. It’s a sudden death situation the winners on the day go through whether they deserve to or not, it is all about the result on the day, and we’ve experienced it many times over the years, but it was a bad blow because we didn’t deserve that. I am pleased with my players; they performed very well, dominated the game, played really good football and didn’t deserve to be beaten at all. In fact we should have won the game, we were the better team, but that’s FA Cup football I am afraid, and it’s not the first time it’s happened to us in recent years. After winning a tie like we did in the last round against Manchester City, it is disappointing to go out at this stage so early on against our other major rivals. The draw has been far from kind to us. Yes of course the goals we conceded were avoidable, we didn’t do well, there was too many defenders in and around the goalkeeper in the first one and the second was just one of these lucky breaks you get. Admittedly he (De Gea) has made a couple of mistakes this season, but listening to some people you would think he had a nightmare. I'm not having either goal was his fault. The problem is, once you get labelled, mud sticks and now any tiny mistake is magnified. Other keepers make similar mistakes and nothing gets said. In my opinion two bad goals to give away but to blame everything on the keeper is totally wrong. The lad will be a top keeper, he is only young. It is harsh to blame him for everything."


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