Liverpool completed a ‘Legends of the North’ double over Manchester United on Saturday as they came from behind to win the latest Legends match 2-1 at Anfield.
Goals from Mark Gonzalez and Florent Sinama-Pongolle saw the Reds claim bragging rights against their fierce rivals once again, having already defeated the Red Devils 3-1 at Old Trafford back in May.
While Jurgen Klopp’s squad might be away on international duty or enjoying a peaceful break, their stars of yesteryear rolled back the years in front of a gleeful crowd. After all, there is no such thing as a friendly between Liverpool and Manchester United!
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With Pongolle clinching a late win in front of the Kop, here are some of the highlights that you might have missed at Anfield.
A late addition to the United squad, former Red Devils captain Roy Keane was always going to be something of a pantomime villain when donning his boots at Anfield once again. If such a playing career isn’t enough of a black mark against his name in these parts, then his role as a Reds critic/Sky Sports pundit certainly is.
With Klopp's side enduring a mixed start to the season, the Irishman recently teased the German before Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford back in August, asking him if his side had been sloppy this season. Such a comment was a tongue-in-cheek throwback to a previous spat between the pair when Keane labelled the Reds as sloppy following a 2020 victory over Arsenal.
Fast-forward to today and Keane, who started on the bench, found his loudly named booed when the teams were read out before kick-off. Then, once he took to the field, such treatment greeted his every touch.
And that’s where we saw a real sloppy display! Now 51, the Irishman was understandably not at his best following his late inclusion. Particular lowlights saw him left for dead by the far pacier Mark Gonzalez, and gifting Liverpool a late chance with the sloppiest of misplaced passes. Understandably, the Kop took great pleasure in both!
One Roy Keane’s reception might not have been the warmest, it was in stark contrast to the one Istanbul hero Jerzy Dudek received from start to finish during his first-half showing against United.
Defending the Kop goal in the opening period, he was given the loudest cheers when saluting the supporters before taking his place between the sticks. Such calls quickly turned to fans chanting his name.
A fan-favourite thanks to his role in clinching Liverpool’s fifth European Cup, Dudek continued to be serenaded throughout the half as he made a number of solid saves. It might be 15 (yes, fifteen!) years since he last played for the Reds but the Kop never forgets!
No such thing as a friendly
Dimitar Berbatov was the star performer for United and opened the scoring with a stunning volley in front of the Kop. Yet he could have opened the scoring even sooner after leaving Momo Sissoko on his backside with the cheekiest of feints, before scuffing his chipped shot and ultimately struggling to get the ball off the ground.
Fortunately for Liverpool, Sissoko took such embarrassment as almost a personal insult as he bounced back to ensure his presence was certainly felt throughout the rest of the game. With there being no such thing as a friendly between these two north-west rivals, the former Mali international certainly ensured there was no love lost as he thundered around the pitch and threw himself into thunderous tackle after thunderous tackle.
Admittedly, not many of them were particularly fair, with Darren Fletcher a frequent victim of his heavy-handed treatment. Still, that earned encouraged the Kop to cheer him more.
Yet that wasn’t the most memorable challenge of the day as Andriy Voronin found himself booked in the first half for the most cynical of fouls. Finding himself in the right-back position, despite playing upfront, he scythed down Danny Pugh with the latest of lunges as the midfielder looked to break into the box and find himself one-on-one.
Perhaps in the Premier League, under the watchful eye of VAR, the Ukrainian would have been greeted by a different coloured card. Instead, apologies were quickly passed on as we were spared the sort of scuffle that might have followed such a challenge in more competitive surroundings.
Having twice scored from inside his own half during his time at Liverpool, Xabi Alonso was understandably encouraged to shoot at every opportunity by the Anfield crowd. Often, he would resist such pleas and opt for a pass instead, though he did volley one dropping effort narrowly off target.
While the Spaniard didn’t treat us to the spectacular first-hand, he very nearly helped create it in the first half with one trademark diagonal cross to Anthony Le Tallec. The Frenchman only scored once during his Reds playing career, but came within a whisker of scoring the most sensational of volleys and even emulating the great Marco Van Basten.
Alas, his effort flew just wide of the post. We’ll always have your Juventus assist, Ant.
While Liverpool Legends might no longer be competing for Premier League and Champions League titles, clashes with Manchester United still clearly mean that little bit more if the Reds’ goal celebrations are anything to go by!
Having combined within a minute of coming on at half-time to provide the equaliser, Mark Gonzalez and Robbie Keane raced to each other and both turned to celebrate wildly in front of the Kop after the Chilean levelled the scores.
But that was nothing compared to Florent Sinama-Pongolle’s celebrations after his latest winner. First racing to the corner to celebrate with his team-mates, he then pulled away to perform Jurgen Klopp’s trademark fistbump celebration in front of the Kop. They gladly returned such a gesture with their own traditional reaction.
Moments later, it was United fans’ turn to celebrate at Fraizer Campbell lobbed Sander Westerveld and seemed to equalise, only to turn and see the flag raised for offside. As the Red Devils celebrated prematurely, Kopites took great pleasure in their reaction.
A member of United’s away support could be seen motioning for VAR, insisting the striker was onside. With no technology in use on Saturday, I guess we’ll never know!
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