[Capital One Cup] Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool
ManUtd: Javier Hernandez (46)
Javier Hernandez settled a cracking Capital One Cup tie with a winner at the start of the second half as everybody at Old Trafford showed how the champions respond to adversity.
The first half was a lively, evenly-contested affair with the hosts unable to really trouble Simon Mignolet as most of the shots on goal were deflected by the eager Merseysiders. Indeed, Brendan Rodgers' side carved out the clearer opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
Daniel Sturridge fired a couple of attempts wide and David De Gea was out bravely to deny Luis Suarez on his reappearance from a 10-game ban. However, United started the second half in inspired form and, after Nani immediately won a corner, Hernandez gave Jose Enrique the slip to expertly touch in skipper Wayne Rooney's set-piece.
Jordan Henderson spurned a real chance but most of the pressure was now coming from the Reds with Nani twice firing over and Shinji Kagawa spinning Lucas and skimming the bar with a thumping drive from outside the area. Back came Liverpool with Suarez brushing the side netting and hitting the bar with a free-kick, either side of a Victor Moses diving header bringing the very best out of De Gea.
Rooney twice extended Mignolet with fine efforts as the game continued to go from end to end and De Gea had to fish away a mis-hit cross by Henderson at his near post, before Kolo Toure could not capitalise after Suarez got away with a shove on Jonny Evans. The ground was a cauldron of noise at the death to celebrate revenge for the league defeat at Anfield.
The match Forget about talk of how much the League Cup means to the top clubs – this was a rousing affair at a noisy Old Trafford with both sides going all out to reach the fourth round. After defeats at Anfield and the Etihad, painfully so on Sunday, there may have been pressure on United but the response was emphatic. After a tight first half, Javier Hernandez struck from Wayne Rooney's corner seconds after the restart and both sides hit the woodwork, while David De Gea and Simon Mignolet made stunning saves.
Goals Just the one but how sweet that Chicharito, so often the scourge of the two Merseyside clubs, should get it. This was his chance to shine after being patient and he took it, losing Jose Enrique to flick out a leg and convert Rooney's corner.
Subplot Luis Suarez's return from a lengthy absence and a summer of headlines about his future received inevitable focus but, for United, this was all about bouncing back from Sunday's derby disaster. Rooney was handed the captaincy ahead of Ryan Giggs, which surprised some supporters, and it's worth remembering Liverpool were determined to go far in this competition because they are not in Europe.
Star men There were fine performances in red shirts throughout the team but centre-backs Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans were immense. Rooney continued his fine form with another accomplished display and special mention must go to De Gea for a couple of top-class saves.
Opposition Liverpool may have lost at home to Southampton at the weekend but they have started the season well and passed the ball around with confidence; Steven Gerrard remains the hub of much of their approach work. Enrique performed well at left-back in the first half but crucially lost Chicharito, while Suarez clearly adds a threat in attack.
Move of the match Giggs made one marvellous interception to frustrate Daniel Sturridge and sparked a move that led to Hernandez and Nani feeding Rooney. The striker clipped a first-time pass to Nani but his cross was too close to Mignolet.
In the stands Any cup tie between the two clubs, with an increased allocation for the away fans, virtually guarantees a top-notch atmosphere and this occasion was no exception. The travelling supporters' ribbing of David Moyes in the first half was followed by vociferous backing from the Old Trafford faithful for the new boss. 'We're on the march with Moyes' army', they sang, and they were right – marching into the fourth round of the competition.