LONDON: Manchester United won the north-west derby 2:1 at Anfield though football was also a winner in Liverpool’s first home match since their fans were finally exonerated from blame for the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989.
A letter from manager Sir Alex Ferguson urging respect** was handed to all United fans entering the ground and the two sets of players wore jackets with ’96’ on the back when they came out.
Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra were applauded for a handshake which finally concluded the racist comment row of a year ago before United legend Sir Bobby Charlton presented a tribute of 96 roses to ex-Liverpool hero Ian Rush.
Respective captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs also released 96 balloons to remember the Liverpool fans who went to a football match and never came home.
United’s fans applauded the traditional singing of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ before kick off to a game which started in traditional high-speed derby style and produced a first-half red card. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was sent off shortly before half-time for taking out Jonny Evans.
Liverpool had the better of the first half. United brought on Paul Scholes at half-time to lead the resistance but it was 10-menLiverpoolwho took the lead through Gerrard after a surging run by Glen Johnson.
Five minutes later United were level through Rafael after a move begun by Scholes and Robin Van Persie shot them ahead from an 81st-minute penalty with his fifth goal in five games after Johnson tripped Antonio Valencia. United had missed all their three previous penalties.
It was United’s win at Anfield since 2007 and Liverpool thus remained in the bottom three.
Ferguson’s letter to United fans
“Today is about thinking hard about what makes United the best club in the world. Our rivalry withLiverpoolis based on a determination to come out on top – a wish to see us crowned the best against a team who held that honour for so long.
“It cannot and should never be based on personal hatred. Just 10 days ago we heard the terrible damning truth about the deaths of the 96 fans who went to watch their team try and reach the FA Cup Final and never came back.
“What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.
“Our great club stands with our great neighboursLiverpoolto remember that great loss and pay tribute to their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.”