Liverpool can officially call themselves Legends of the North after beating Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Reds legends – managed by Sir Kenny Dalglish – were ultimately too strong for their bitter North West rivals as a cool Luis Garcia strike and two goals from Mark Gonzalez earned a 3-1 triumph on Saturday afternoon.
A few hundred Reds fans who made the trip down the East Lancs Road were keen to make themselves heard as part of a crowd of almost 50,000, who witnessed a competitive game between two sets of old adversaries.
Both sides had plenty of chances in the first half, with Jerzy Dudek making a number of good stops and Liverpool going close through Andriy Voronin, Abel Xavier and a Maxi Rodriguez shot that was cleared off the line by Antonio Valencia.
Jamie Carragher was the only visiting starter to remain on the pitch for the second half, and the new-look side took just two minutes to open the scoring when Yossi Benayoun’s brilliant through ball found Garcia, who showed great composure to go around the goalkeeper to score.
The lead, though, lasted just two minutes when, after being upended by Momo Sissoko inside the area, Dimitar Berbatov rolled his penalty into the bottom corner.
Gonzalez was denied by substitute United goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington and Dirk Kuyt the post before the visitors went ahead on 63 minutes in outstanding fashion, Gonzalez curling a free kick in off the post from 25 yards.
Gonzalez and Garcia both missed chances late on to extend the lead but, with the away end greeting the final moments with strains of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the latter found the former to thrash home the third goal with an angled drive. Not for the first time this season, Old Trafford had been conquered by Liverpool.
Here’s how the players rated. Sort of...
Kept Liverpool in the game with a string of first-half saves. A bit too much like the old times, then.
Bjorn Tore Kvarme
The Legends hero of days past continues to look exactly the same as he did when last appearing for the first team more than 23 years ago.
The reigning winner of the best hair award retained his crown in every sense. Close with a header from that buoyant bonce, and re-emerged late on.
Jeered before the game, during the game and most probably after the game by the Old Trafford faithful. Which he no doubt absolutely loved.
One of a few Liverpool players who looked like they could actually still do a job at some level in the game.
His pace still remains to the point the winger sometimes had to wait a short while for everybody else to catch up.
Only in the Legends era has the Senegalese finally made a regular impact with the Reds.
Fit and sprightly and even got a song from the Liverpool fans who had made the journey down the East Lancs Road. Had one shot cleared off the line.
His relatively recent retirement put him at an advantage given his ability to still be able to run.
Anthony Le Tallec
Made the most of being one of the youngest players on display by demonstrating an otherwise rare ability of remaining upright.
Almost unrecognisable without his trademark long hair and double denim, came close to scoring in the opening moments. Returned to play the final quarter.
Sander Westerveld (for Dudek 46)
No chance with Berbatov’s penalty and one extravagant flap to keep out a deep cross.
Stephen Wright (for Kvarme 46)
Provided a welcome splash of grey hair to a game suspiciously bereft of such an obvious sign of ageing. Enjoyed knocking over Evra at one point.
Gregory Vignal (for Xavier 46)
Jose Enrique (for Aurelio 46)
Hopefully fitted in a trip to Knowsley Safari Park on his way to the stadium.
Momo Sissoko (for Diao 46)
Has transformed from all arms and legs to mainly mid-riff, and couldn’t resist sending Berbatov to ground for the United penalty.
Luis Garcia (for Le Tallec 46)
Great composure to sell Raimond van der Gouw a dummy to score the first goal with practically his first touch of the match. Missed one chance and good assist for third. The Spaniard has still got it.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle (for Pennant 46)
Lasted for about 20 minutes before his body remembered he is a retired footballer.
Mark Gonzalez (for Downing 46)
Missed a great chance when denied by Pilkington’s class but curled in a brilliant 25-yard free-kick shortly afterwards and thumped in the third. Best player on the park.
Yossi Benayoun (for Maxi 46)
Great assist for the first goal and freakishly fit for a man in his forties. Seriously, come on Yossi. You’re showing the rest of us up.
Dirk Kuyt (for Voronin 46)
No matter what the stage or age, you know you’ll get 100% Dirk. Hit the post.