Manchester United came through an emotion-charged examination at Anfield to move within a point of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League on Sunday, while Arsenal grabbed a late draw at Manchester City. Elsewhere, there were home victories for Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle.
Martin Skrtel and Robin van Persie Manchester United v Liverpool
GettyImagesRobin van Persie’s penalty proved Manchester United’s match-winner at Anfield
Robin van Persie’s late penalty secured Manchester United’s first Anfield win since December 2007 against 10-man Liverpool as the visitors triumphed 2-1 on an emotional afternoon on Merseyside.
The Reds were hosting their first game since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report – which absolved the club’s supporters of any responsibility for the 1989 disaster. And in a poignant pre-match tribute to those who lost their lives, both sides wore tracksuit tops donning the number 96, with respective skippers Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic helping to release 96 red balloons into the Merseyside air.
On the pitch there was one issue to deal with before the opening whistle as Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shook hands to put an end to their public fallout. The Reds then lost Jonjo Shelvey to a straight red card six minutes before half-time after the Liverpool man recklessly lunged in on Jonny Evans – although the United man was every bit as guilty for the same offence.
Liverpool still managed to take the lead as Steven Gerrard volleyed home a 46th-minute opener but it lasted all of four minutes though as United were suddenly sparked into life, equalising through a super left-footed strike from Rafael.
Despite continuing to dominate, Brendan Rodgers’ side were thwarted in their attempts to snatch a winner and were made to pay for their profligacy when Johnson felled Antonio Valencia with 11 minutes remaining. Van Persie dispatched the spot-kick through the powderpuff hands of Pepe Reina.
A late equaliser from Laurent Koscielny earned Arsenal a well-deserved 1-1 draw with Manchester City at Eastlands.
The Gunners were on top for much of the opening period, but it was City who took the lead when, following a needlessly conceded corner, Joleon Lescott headed in at the far post, with goalkeeper Vito Mannone in no-man’s land.
Arsene Wenger’s charges toiled without reward in the second half until Koscielny rifled into the top of the net after City failed to clear a corner effectively. Sergio Aguero spurned a golden chance to win the game for City soon after – but a draw was the least the Gunners merited.
Two goals in the space of 90 second-half seconds gave Tottenham a 2-1 victory at home to QPR. Bobby Zamora gave QPR the lead late in the first period, causing Spurs to be booed from the field at half-time.
But a second-half turnaround, sparked by an Alejandro Faurlin own goal and then topped by Jermain Defoe, handed Spurs all three points at White Hart Lane.
Newcastle recorded their second league win of the season at St James’ Park against Norwich, despite a missed first-half penalty from Papiss Cisse. The Magpies triumphed 1-0 after Demba Ba notched the winner in the 19th minute.
Ba’s breakthrough came against the run of play, but it was beautifully made by Hatem Ben Arfa who played in the Senegalese forward to slide the ball beyond John Ruddy. Cisse then sent a horrible spot-kick over the bar, but it mattered little as Newcastle closed out the match.