Liverpool crush United to storm back into title race

March 15th, 2009 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 15 (DPA) Liverpool burst back into the English Premier League title race with a stunning 4-1 away win against Manchester United to cut the gap between themselves and the champions at the top to just four points.
Cristiano Ronaldo put United ahead from the penalty spot but goals from Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena gave Liverpool an incredible victory, helped by the sending-off of Nemanja Vidic in the second half Saturday.

Liverpool leapfrog Chelsea into second place on 61 points, four points behind United, though the champions still have a game in hand.

“It was a great team performance and we worked very hard today. We showed great character to come back from a goal down and it was a magnificent win”, the Liverpool captain said after the match.

“In the end it was very comfortable. It’s not very often you come to Old Trafford and win 4-1.

“The important thing is that we made the gap smaller today. We realise that Manchester United are still a fantastic team and there is still a lot of work to do, but hopefully this will give the other teams who play them before the end of the season some belief.”

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson claimed United had been unlucky not to win themselves.

“It is a hard one to take because I felt we were the better team,” he said. “That is not reflected in the scoreline and quite rightly, when you win 4-1 you get all the plaudits. I can’t deny that.”

But Ferguson said his side were still in the driving seat as they chase their third straight Premier League title.

“If the league started now and we had a four-point start I would take it,” he said.

Liverpool’s win means that they completed the league double over their rivals, and just as at Anfield earlier this season, they had to come from behind for victory.

Ronaldo opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 25 minutes when Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina misjudged a pass from Carlos Tevez to bring down Park Ji-Sung.

But the visitors hit back within five minutes through Fernando Torres as Vidic - one of the stars of United’s season to date - failed to deal with a high ball from the Liverpool defence.

As the Serbian defender hesitated, Torres closed in on the United goal before finishing clinically past Edwin van der Sar.

And just before half-time Gerrard dispatched a penalty, after he had been brought down by Patrice Evra, to give the visitors a surprise lead at the break.

The champions put the visitors under concerted pressure throughout the second half, but Liverpool’s defenders restricted them to only half chances.

With 15 minutes remaining, Vidic was sent off for a professional foul on Gerrard. From the free kick that followed, full back Aurelio made it 3-1 with a stunning strike from 25 yards.

Italian full back Dossena supplied the icing on the cake with a delicate chip in the final minutes as Liverpool completed a morale-boosting victory.

“Realistically, we have to win all of our games,” Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said. “But part of winning the war is winning football matches.

“We have more belief and more confidence now. It will be difficult but we can do it.”

In the day’s other matches, Arsenal moved above Aston Villa on goal difference into fourth place after a 4-0 win over Blackburn Rovers, with Andrei Arshavin and Emmanuel Eboue scoring two goals apiece.

Everton consolidated sixth place with a 3-1 win over Stoke City, who dropped into the relegation zone. Second-from-bottom Middlesbrough earned a valuable point thanks to a last-minute equaliser from Marlon King in a 1-1 draw with fellow relegation candidates Portsmouth.

Fulham won 3-1 at Bolton for their first away victory of the season, while Wigan triumphed 2-1 at Sunderland and Hull City and Newcastle United shared a 1-1 draw.

Chelsea play Manchester City on Sunday, while Aston Villa take Tottenham Hotspur.

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