Van Persie proves to be the main man
Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1:Striker Robin van Persie came out on top in the battle of the Premier League’s top scorers as Manchester United emerged from a tricky test unscathed against arch-rivals Liverpool. The Dutch international continued his remarkable scoring spree with a close-range effort in the first half which was doubled after the break by Nemanja Vidic.
Liverpool substitute Daniel Sturridge overshadowed team-mate Luis Suarez, who began the day one behind Van Persie on 15 top-flight goals for the season, by marking his league debut for his new club with a second goal in as many matches and had a chance to snatch a point late on, but United held on grimly, if somewhat unconvincingly.
It was billed as the battle of the Premier League’s two best strikers. Unfortunately it never lived up to the pre-match hype.
Van Persie — expertly and clinically — scored with virtually his first chance and could have had at least one other in the first half. Suarez toiled in vain but never got the remotest inkling of an opportunity against Rio Ferdinand and Vidic — reunited in the centre of defence for the first time since September — with his one effort coming just before the interval and only troubling the fans in the Stretford End.
In spite of the age-old rivalry between England’s two most-decorated clubs the first quarter of the game was something of a non-entity.
United enjoyed the greater dominance, as was to be expected from the home team, while not creating anything too threatening while Liverpool counter-attacked sporadically but fared even worse in the final third. It changed in the 19th minute when, with United steadily building the pressure, the ball was worked from right to left for Patrice Evra to pick up in space.
His low cross was the perfect invitation and Van Persie did what he does best, side-footing a shot past Reina.
The statistics now adding up for him are startling. It was his 65th goal in 77 league matches, his 10th in the past 10 games, his fifth in five against Liverpool (three coming for Arsenal and the other at Anfield earlier in the season) and his 20th of the campaign.
Van Persie should probably have had another having charged through a gaping hole between centre-backs Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger to collect Ashley Young’s through-ball but he uncharacteristically ballooned over.
Liverpool, possibly due to the inexperience of the likes of Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen, appeared to crumble. Allen, who is so often hailed for his possession statistics, passed the ball straight to Danny Welbeck and the Wales midfielder’s embarrassment was only saved by a block from Agger.