Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2

9th November 2003
Anfield, Liverpool

Manchester United claimed all three points, although Sir Alex was cheeky enough to aggress that Liverpool had deserved something.

Despite all expectations, the first half was a very dull affair. Whilst Liverpool had more of the possession, there was little they could do with it, especially without top striker Michael Owen who was injured. Heskey started the game upfront, but could do little or nothing to trouble an impressive and solid United backline.

Liverpool flashed a few shots wide of the post, and over the bar, before United had their first real chance. Giggs' cross from a free-kick was met by van Nistelrooy, who had danced back onside and lost his man. The ball was sent screaming past the far post, and it looked as though United had gone close. In reality, Ruud had used his hand to send the ball on its way, and he was duly punished for it. El Hadj Diuof made himself no friends when he insisted van Nistelrooy be booked, and should, by FIFA rules, have received one himself. Maybe that would have stopped him performing his dirty and late tackles.

Liverpool passed the ball around well, but with very little penetration, though united were playing at far from their best relying far too heavily on the defence to sort out their troubles. It says something that the reds were happy to go in at half-time with a 0 - 0 score-line.

After the whistle the game changed beyond recognition. Not only were United a cohesive defensive unit, but they were also a fast-flowing, fluent attacking side. Their newly-found impetus pushed Liverpool on, and it was the Anfield Reds who had the first chance of the half, with Kewell, who snubbed a move to United in the summer, testing Timmy from distance.

With Forlan's two goals against Liverpool last time round, everyone had Dudek on the mind, and the pressure must have got to the Polish 'keeper. Having collected the ball on the edge of his area, and been put under pressure by van Nistelrooy, Dudek sliced the ball out to Giggs by accident. Giggs' text-book first-time volley left Dudek scrabbling on the ground, with only a full-length dive halting the ball's progress.

Giggs need not have been disappointed however, as he claimed the first of his two just minutes later. His cross form the right wing was destined for Ruud. Dudek waited for the touch from Ruud, but it never came. The cross bounced through the defence, and into the back of the net. Dudek was at fault again.

Giggs second came when he stole in unmarked at the back post. He had all day to work out his shot, and eventually put it under the legs of the Scouse goalie, to his team-mates delight.

Liverpool managed to get a goal back when their skilful youngster Sinama Pongolle pulled the ball back to Kewell, but they were ultimately unable to grab the equaliser, with the game ending with Liverpool laying siege to the United penalty area. A penalty appeal was turned don before Heskey was put through in injury time. Needless to say, the shot went wide, but only after Heskey had slipped helplessly, to become the second laughing stock of the game.

Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Biscan, Hyypia, Traore, Diouf (Le Tallec 70), Murphy, Gerrard, Smicer (Sinama Pongolle 63), Heskey, Kewell.

Subs not used: Kirkland, Diao, Riise.
Booked: Diouf.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea, Fortune (Fletcher 83), Phil Neville, Keane, Giggs, van Nistelrooy, Forlan.

Subs not used: Carroll, Ronaldo, Butt, Djemba-Djemba.
Booked: Van Nistelrooy, Gary Neville.
Attendance: 44,159.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).