Best of Enemies

Manchester United v Liverpool: The memorable Premier League meetings in their storied rivalry

The heavyweight clubs have served up a few treats in the Premier League era, even if recent meetings have been mostly forgettable.

FOR ONE OF England’s grandest rivalries, matches between Manchester United and Liverpool have been pretty drab recently.

When these two met last season at Old Trafford, it was a game notable for a remarkable number of injuries – three players went off before half-time – and almost no goalscoring chances.

The two league meetings hosted by United before that ended 2-1 and 1-1, neither of which were classic encounters, while the 3-1 win for Liverpool at Anfield last December ended a sequence of 0-1, 0-0 and 0-0 in league games at Anfield.

Sunday’s game also threatens to be something of a damp squib given Liverpool’s imperious habit of winning and United’s wretched inability to create goalscoring chances.

With that in mind, it’s perhaps worth looking back at six of the more memorable meetings in the Premier League era between English football’s most successful clubs. And, just to throw a little fuel on the fire, we have gone and ranked them, too…

6. Man United 0-3 Liverpool: Moyes left on the brink (March 2014)

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Liverpool were the team chasing the title against opponents in disarray. David Moyes was supposed to be the chosen one for United, but this result left him on borrowed time.

Steven Gerrard scored two penalties and could even afford to miss another. Nemanja Vidic saw red – not for the first time in this meeting of north-west heavyweights - before Luis Suarez, of all people, rubbed salt in the United wounds with a late goal.

The home team were fortunate the final margin was not considerably greater, while Moyes only lasted another month in the job.

5. Liverpool 1-2 Man United: Gerrard on…then off! (March 2015)

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This one will always be remembered as Gerrard’s last Liverpool game against the old enemy – all 38 seconds of it.

Juan Mata had given the visitors a half-time lead, prompting Brendan Rodgers to turn to Gerrard to inject some bite into a limp Liverpool display. The captain duly did: in the first minute of the half, his reckless stamp on Ander Herrera earned him a straight red card.

Mata scored a second goal with a stunning scissor-kick, meaning Daniel Sturridge’s goal proved only consolation, as United moved five points clear of their rivals in the top-four race.

4. Man United 2-2 Liverpool: King Eric regal on return (October 1995)

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This was the Eric Cantona show. After serving a nine-month suspension for kung-fu kicking a fan after being sent off at Crystal Palace, the Frenchman made an immediate impact on his return.

Cantona was involved in United’s opener, crossing the ball into the path of scorer Nicky Butt, while it was his penalty with 15 minutes to go that levelled the contest.

In between those moments, Robbie Fowler scored two beautiful but vastly contrasting goals. The first was all about power, as he lashed a shot from a tight angle beyond a stunned Peter Schmeichel, while the other was about finesse, the striker lifting a right-footed lob over the Danish goalkeeper.

3. Liverpool 2-3 Man United: Carra, Cole & five goals (September 1999)

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This is a game Jamie Carragher will certainly never forget, mainly because those who support the Red Devils will not allow him to.

The defender scored two goals – both in the wrong net – at the Kop end. Andy Cole was the United player to score in what was an eventful clash at Anfield, though he was also sent off to leave his team a man light for the final 20 minutes.

Liverpool had capitalised on a Massimo Taibi error in the first half to grab a goal through Sami Hyypia and while Patrik Berger cut the deficit down to one before Cole’s dismissal, the visitors held on to prevail in a see-saw battle lacking in quality but full of drama.

2. Man United 1-4 Liverpool: Rafa’s Reds run riot (March 2009)

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How can you ever forget this one (though United fans may have tried to over the years)?

Fernando Torres scored after robbing the ball from Vidic, who later saw red. Gerrard kissed the badge right down a television camera’s lens after scoring a penalty conceded by Patrice Evra. Then there was Fabio Aurelio’s gorgeous free-kick, though perhaps the best was saved until last when substitute Andrea Dossena lobbed the ball over Edwin van der Sar to complete the scoring.

And all this came just four days after a 4-0 thumping of Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League for Rafa Benitez’s men. Still, United went on to win the title.

1. Liverpool 3-3 Man United: On a ‘Razor’ edge (January 1994)

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A true Premier League classic in the early years of the competition.

Runaway league leaders United raced into a 3-0 lead after just 25 minutes at Anfield through Ryan Giggs, Dennis Irwin and Steve Bruce, only for the Reds to hit back with a Nigel Clough double and a header from Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock.

It was a stirring comeback to make manager Graeme Souness proud, but it didn’t help him keep his job. He resigned before the month was out.

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