Liverpool’s last visit to Old Trafford will be remembered forever.
The Reds humiliated Manchester United in front of a surprised home crowd, putting even more pressure on then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Liverpool won 5-0 because of Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick and Paul Pogba’s dismissal less than 10 minutes after coming in.
United’s performance was a disaster, and Liverpool fans inside Old Trafford revealed in ridiculing their rivals when Naby Keita handed their side an early lead.
Gary Neville, co-commentator for Sky Sports, stated his former team was ‘kidding itself’ by pressuring Liverpool, and he took shots at United’s players both before and after the game.
But it wasn’t the first time Liverpool had shown up at Old Trafford and ran riot in the Premier League, as the Reds did on this day 13 years ago, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson dumbfounded.
Manchester United had not been beaten in the Premier League since a loss to Arsenal the previous November at this time in March 2009.
While United had been unbeaten in the Premier League at Old Trafford for more than a year and appeared to be on the verge of another title,
And the hosts couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot.
Liverpool, on the other hand, answered emphatically. First, Fernando Torres bullied Nemanja Vidic into a mistake, as he often seemed to do back then.
After snatching the lost ball, the attacker sprinted clear before scoring coolly beyond Edwin van der Sar in the United goal.
Then, a minute before halftime, Torres slid in Steven Gerrard, who was tackled as he approached the area by Patrice Evra, with referee Alan Wiley pointing to the spot.
Gerrard calmly executed the penalty before Vidic’s afternoon was made much worse when he was sent off for bringing down the midfielder.
Fabio Aurelio converted the next free-kick to make it 3-1, and Liverpool scored a fourth in stoppage time when substitute Andrea Dossena displayed the poise of a senior striker to lift the ball over Van der Sar after latching onto Pepe Reina’s goal kick.
Following years of pain at Old Trafford, Gerrard couldn’t help but take aim at United’s followers.
“It’s nice to score at Old Trafford after all the abuse I’ve received from United fans over the years,” he remarked. It felt good to rub it in.”
But one man who had nothing to say was United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who sent out assistant Mike Phelan to conduct the post-match interviews.
The move prompted Tony Barrett, the ECHO’s then-Liverpool correspondent, to muse on how Benitez would be received if he did the same thing in his match report.
“Imagine for a dreadful second if Liverpool were on the receiving end of a humiliating home defeat to their main rivals at midday on Saturday,” he wrote in his conclusion, titled ‘Bad loser Alex Ferguson goes missing.’
“Imagine – if you can bear it – Manchester United tearing holes after holes in the Reds’ frail backline and handing them their worst league defeat in 17 years.”
“Imagine Rafa Benitez skipping the usual post-match press conference after such a humiliating defeat, instead opting to deliver his logic-defying judgment that his team was the better of the two to an in-house TV channel, leaving his deputy to face all other rolling cameras.”
The headlines “Rafa’s Cracking Up” would be published faster than Fernando Torres chasing a Steven Gerrard through ball.
“So, how can we interpret Alex Ferguson’s reaction to being on the receiving end of the identical scenario at the hands of Liverpool?” Is it possible that the pressure is now being applied to United’s manager?
“Fergie’s irrational reaction to watching his team ripped to shreds by a rampant Liverpool says he is – and so he should be.”
“This was his personal nightmare at the self-styled “Theatre of Dreams,” and it came only 24 hours after he suggested only a doctor could figure out his opposite number at Anfield — that’s what you call a Freudian slip.”
According to Barrett’s story, the United manager would finally appear in an interview with the club’s in-house TV station, in which he oddly stated his team was the better team.
“It’s difficult to accept,” the Scot added. I think we were the superior squad, but the score doesn’t represent that, and that’s unfortunately the name of the game. When you win 4-1 at Old Trafford, you earn all the praise.”
Despite achieving the double over United that season, Liverpool’s title would still end up at Old Trafford and in the hands of Sir Alex Ferguson.
But, while Sir Alex would prefer to forget the game, there is little doubt that it will live long in the memory of Liverpool fans, just as their previous journey to Old Trafford did.
It was also a fitting way for Rafa Benitez to record his 100th league victory as manager of the Reds.