Old rivals finish as equals in thriller
Mexican Javier Hernandez's header earns Manchester United a draw against Liverpool, City wallop Villa. Resultssports Updated: Oct 16, 2011 01:57 IST
Manchester United shared the points and the taunts with bitter rivals Liverpool as Javier Hernandez's late header cancelled out Steven Gerrard's opener in a 1-1 draw on Saturday that put the brakes on the Premier League champions' title defence.
Liverpool captain Gerrard marked his first start for seven months with a 68th-minute free kick that broke the deadlock in a game where the action on the pitch had until then failed to match the passion in the stands.The goal prompted United to bring on all the firepower they had left on the bench, two of whom combined for the 81st-minute equaliser as Hernandez nodded in from a Nani corner to ensure a lively finale at a high tempo that was not there before.
"I don't think they really threatened until they scored the goal, but when they scored the game opened up," United manager Alex Ferguson said, whose team is unbeaten in 11 games this season and have 20 points from eight league matches.
The excitement until Gerrard's goal had been off the pitch, where a plane trailing a banner reading "Bonjour 19X" flew over Anfield before kickoff as United fans revelled in last year's 19th English league title, which broke Liverpool's record.
The Liverpool faithful returned with jibes of their own, including flags depicting five European cups reading "That's what we call history" in a dig at their 5-3 advantage.
Ferguson billed contests between United and Liverpool as the "game of the season" in the build-up, but he can not have been talking about the quality of play that was on show in the first hour at Anfield.
City goes on top
Manchester City proved there is no hangover from the Carlos Tevez controversy as a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa at Eastlands lifted them to the top.
City have been dogged by the fall-out from the Tevez controversy in recent weeks, but goals from Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner showed life goes on without the suspended Argentine.