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  • Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool, Premier League

Gerrard penalty double piles on to United woes

ESPN staff
March 16, 2014
Steven Gerrard celebrates in familiar fashion after the scoring the second of three penalties awarded to Liverpool © Getty Images
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Steven Gerrard achieved the extraordinary feat of scoring two penalties and missing a third at Old Trafford as Liverpool piled on the misery for David Moyes and Manchester United.

Gerrard was on target in the first half as Rafael handled in the box, allowing the Liverpool captain to put his side 1-0 up with a calmly converted spot-kick.

Within 30 seconds of the second half commencing, Liverpool had a second penalty as Phil Jones clattered Joe Allen in an aerial collision. Gerrard again converted from the spot then re-enacted his famous celebration of 2009 when he kissed the pitch-side camera.

Incredibly, Liverpool were awarded a third penalty on 78 minutes when Nemanja Vidic was harshly adjudged to have tripped Daniel Sturridge. Replays proved there was no contact between the two players, but having already booked Vidic, referee Mark Clattenburg was left with no option but to send him off for a second bookable offence. It is the fourth time Vidic has been sent off against Liverpool in his United career.

Perhaps even more incredibly, Gerrard contrived to miss the penalty, squirting a low shot off the post.

Luis Suarez was denied a third goal by a spectacular save from David de Gea but made no mistake when a shot fell into his path eight yards from goal, which he calmly swept past de Gea for 3-0.

Nemanja Vidic is astonished to be sent off by referee Mark Clattenburg © Getty Images
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He celebrated in front of a joyous Liverpool support, while United fans streamed for the exits. They now lie 14 points behind Liverpool in the table and are all but certain to miss out on a top-four finish and a Champions League spot.

Liverpool's fans rubbed Moyes' nose in it towards the end of the defeat, unfurling a banner that proclaimed the United boss to be a "football genius" and for all his public claims that he is the right man to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford, the statistics show how much United have regressed under Moyes' stewardship.

This time last year, United were 29 points ahead of Liverpool. They are now 14 behind their bitter rivals with nine matches of the season left. The 11-point gap to fourth place looks insurmountable while Liverpool's title challenge can no longer be questioned following this momentous result.

With Vidic and Jones at centre-back, United were always going to be vulnerable to the pace of Suarez and Sturridge. An early warning sign came just two minutes into the game when Sturridge sprinted past Vidic but shot wide.

Suarez was the next to puncture the United defence. He latched on to Jon Flanagan's cutting pass and sprinted into the United box but he did not go down when Marouane Fellaini clearly pulled his shorts. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was up in arms on the touchline.

Liverpool found it easy to open United up with their pace, but the hosts had no such avenue up front. It was all hit and hope from Moyes' men. Several crosses fell into the Liverpool box but they were all cleared.

Sturridge again got the better of Vidic and Jones with a burst of pace, but he fluffed his shot, and David de Gea made his first save from Allen after Sturridge picked out Suarez in the box.

Flanagan went into the book for his third foul of the afternoon and Rafael soon joined him for a pointless sliding tackle by the corner flag that clattered Gerrard.

Moments later and Rafael handed Liverpool the lead. The ball struck the Brazilian's outstretched right hand in his own box as Suarez tried to guide the ball past him and Clattenburg had no option but to award a penalty.

Liverpool argued Rafael should receive a second booking, but Clattenburg did not agree. Still, the damage had been done and Gerrard made no mistake from the spot, tucking the ball inside De Gea's left-hand post with a precise finish.

United had a strong five-minute spell before the break, which involved Wayne Rooney drawing a top save from Simon Mignolet. United ended the half on the up but just 30 seconds after the restart they imploded.

Guest Diego Maradona and the rest of those in the directors' box were taking their seats when Jones clattered into the back of Allen and the referee pointed to the spot. Gerrard placed the ball to De Gea's left again before sprinting over to the jubilant Liverpool fans.

United thought they should have had two penalties for a handball by Glen Johnson and a foul on Rooney by Martin Skrtel but Clattenburg again disagreed.

Suarez and Sturridge continued to use their pace to good effect. On one occasion the duo came up against five United defenders and they almost scored a third. United's back line were clearly petrified by their pace.

Shouts of "ole" rang out as Liverpool played keep ball while United tried to chase it down.

Robin van Persie glanced a free header feebly wide from six yards. Moyes finally made a change 15 minutes from time with Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck coming on for Adnan Januzaj and Fellaini.

A nightmare afternoon plumbed new depths when Vidic was given a second yellow card for supposedly bringing down Sturridge in the box. Replays suggested the England striker had dived, and the only crumb of comfort for United was that Gerrard missed his hat-trick opportunity by hitting De Gea's right-hand post.

The fact that Gerrard's miss prompted the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the home fans said it all. De Gea saved well from Suarez with eight minutes left but the Uruguayan did not miss moments later, latching on to Sturridge's pass to complete a miserable day for United.

Steven Gerrard tucks away the first of his penalty kicks, sending David de Gea the wrong way © Getty Images
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