Liverpool humiliate Man Utd as Chelsea defeat opens title race
'One of my worst days in football,' admits Rooney after Old Trafford mauling
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3. Reigning champions Manchester United suffered their ninth Premier League loss of the season but few will have hurt as much as this comprehensive defeat at home to Liverpool. Describing the result as a "nightmare", United striker Wayne Rooney added: "It's one of the worst days I've ever had in football."
The defeat leaves United in seventh spot, three points behind Everton, who have a game in hand. As for Liverpool, they are now second, four points shy of leaders Chelsea but like their Merseyside neighbours they too have a game up their sleeve. The Blues were beaten 1-0 at Aston Villa on Saturday evening, a result described by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (who was sent off along with two of his players), as "very, very unlucky", while Manchester City and Arsenal enjoyed wins on the road at Hull and Tottenham respectively. It was the Gunners first league success at White Hart Lane since 2007 and keeps them within four points of Chelsea and behind Liverpool only on goal difference.
But it was United's humiliation at Old Trafford that proved the biggest talking point of the weekend. Indeed, it could have been worse for the Red Devils had Steven Gerrard not hit the post with a penalty – his third of the game – having successfully converted his two previous spot kicks. The third penalty came after Nemanja Vidic brought down Daniel Sturridge and was sent off, even though replays suggest there was little or no contact with the Liverpool striker. But despite Gerrard's miss there was still time for Liverpool to add a third when Luis Suarez fired past the luckless David de Gea.
No player has ever scored three penalties in a Premier League game but even though he had missed out on making history, Gerrard was anything but downbeat. "We played a diamond today and totally bossed the midfield and controlled the game," he exclaimed. "The Manchester United defence will not have had a harder game than against our strikers today."
Asked if the victory would spur on Liverpool to win their first Premier League title in 24 years, Gerrard replied: "We've shown today we're genuine contenders and we'll fight to the end... but the easiest thing in football is to talk the talk."
There was a similar message from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who knows there is still a long way to go in what is the most open title race in years. "We won't get carried away," he said. "It is a wonderful result and our confidence is high at the moment but our only focus is on the next game. If we can continue to play at the same intensity, we will continue to win games."
United's hopes defending their title disappeared long ago but they now face the very real prospect of missing out on next season's Champions League and maybe even the Europa League. "It looks like we are a long way off it, we are well aware of that, but we are going to keep fighting," said manager David Moyes.
Their next fight is Wednesday's Champions League Last 16 return leg against Olympiakos at Old Trafford with United trailing 2-0 from the first leg in Greece. "The support was phenomenal today and if they give us that again we will have a great chance on Wednesday," said Moyes.