Manchester United kick-started their season last night, dominating Liverpool in a fiery encounter at Old Trafford.
Buoyed by the return of Rio Ferdinand from an eight-month suspension, United played their best football of the season as the pieces of Ferguson’s jigsaw finally looked like coming together.
Liverpool missed an opportunity to go ahead in the opening minutes when Djibril Cisse slipped in the six-yard box, failing to connect with the ball on the slick Trafford pitch.
The incident jolted United to life as they laid siege to the Liverpool goal for the remainder of the half.
Mikael Silvestre opened the scoring on 20 minutes, arriving unmarked at the back post to head home a Giggs corner. Last night was the Welshman’s 600th appearance for United in the Premiership and he marked the occasion by producing some clinical dead ball deliveries.
Elsewhere, Christiano Ronaldo was once again in sensational form, dictating the game on the right hand side for the home team. Roaming freely infield the 19-year-old Portuguese prodigy demonstrated exactly why he had been presented with the Sir Matt Busby player of the year award before the kick off.
Ronaldo was denied an early contender for goal of the season by the narrowest of margins. Collecting the ball deep the winger drove infield at the heart of the Liverpool defence eventually releasing a dipping left foot strike. Jerzy Dudek had no chance as the ball spun on the greasy surface, and a goal was only denied by the upright.
United can feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty when Sami Hyypia dragged Ruud Van Nistelrooy to the ground as the striker turned in the box. The Dutch hitman who struck twice in Europe last week, kept his feet and made no appeal, winning plaudits for fair play but failing to convert the effort.
Steven Gerrard left the pitch before the interval with a suspected broken metatarsal. The Liverpool skipper awaits scans to determine the extent of the injury, which could see him out for club and country for up to two months.
Liverpool we’re rewarded for their early endeavour in the second half, forcing John O’Shea to touch the ball into his own net and Roy Carroll, replacing the dropped Tim Howard, was almost exposed by Xabi Alonso’s audacious half-way-line effort.
United reacted by raising the tempo once more in the second period, re-establishing the lead ten minutes later. Silvestre once again capitalised on slack Liverpool marking to prove the unlikely goal hero and secure the points for United.
A successful night for Alex Ferguson’s side and the introduction of Ferdinand lifted United. New signing Wayne Rooney is expected to return from injury against Middlesborough in a fortnight’s time, as United look to close the gap on early frontrunners Chelsea and Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Liverpool face a testing period without the inspiration of Gerrard.