Steven Gerrard Return Not Enough (Liverpool vs Manchester United)

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Steven Gerrard made his first start for Liverpool since March 2011, a 3-1 win over United at Anfield. Steven Gerrard scored his first goal of the season with a 68th minute free kick against a weak, confused and disappointing Manchester United, but it was only enough for a 1-1 draw after Chicharito snatched a late equalizer.

The bright side for the league leaders? Despite leaving Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani on the bench at the start of the match, one decent corner, after he brought them all in to save a point, was enough for Alex Ferguson’s side to grab a point after three straight league defeats at Anfield. David De Gea forgot all about his “criminal” problems and made a couple of brilliant saves late in the game, saving that point. That’s it.

Ferguson thinks long run, knowing he’s got a Champions League match and the mega derby next week. So it wasn’t a bad decision leaving his best players, along with a still injured Nemanja Vidic, out of the starting lineup. A soft midfield held it’s ground against a dominant but not agressive or fast enough Liverpool side.

Luis Suarez is a nightmare for any defender, but a combined Smalling-Ferdinand-Evans effort kept the Uruguayan star at bay. Liverpool failed to make any use of their possession in the first half, as the game threatened to draw out into a 0-0 bore.

The second half, along with a substitution that brought on Jordan Henderson for Lucas (thought for the future?) pushed United to their goal, with tempers, and pace, growing and rising, just the way we like it. Eventually, Charlie Adam too full advantage of the slightest of touches from Rio Ferdinand to earn the Reds a free kick in a comfortable spot. Steven Gerrard, decent but not too influential up to that point, scored a fantastic free kick through the wall while Suarez was obscuring De Gea’s view.

Alex Ferguson went Gary Oldman from LEON, sending EVERYONE he could inside – Rooney, Nani and Chicharito. Danny Welbeck put his head on Nani’s corner in the 81st minute to give Hernandez the small chance he always makes use of. 1-1. Stealing a point, but still avoiding a loss. Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson tested De Gea to the limit but the much criticized Spaniard showed his quality.

Ferguson got his wish – Rest for key players and avoiding the annual Anfield loss. He might lose the first place, but he’s in it for the long run, remember. Liverpool, conceding once again, will be much more disappointed from a match they controlled for most of the 90 minutes. Still, if Gerrard keeps his quick progression after seven months of rehabilitation, only one point was worth the wait.