Articles

Minute by minute

By Barry Glendenning

The presentation

Alex Ferguson collects his loser's medal from David Blunkett. The Liverpool players collect their winners' medals and Jerzy Dudek picks up the Man Of The Match award. Sami Hyypia recevies the cup from some weird middle-aged bloke who seems very reluctant to give it away. Cue: footballers gadding about in a "we've just won a final" manner, spraying champagne all over each other. Well, that's all from me. Thanks for your time and your e-mails, most of which I didn't get to read, I must confess. I'll read them later.

93 mins: Giggs attempts a cross and kicks fresh air. Paul Durkin takes the ball from Jerzy Dudek and signals that time is up. Manchester United have been found wanting in nearly every department today. Keane was noticably quiet while Silvestre and Beckham were just downright poor. Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a lorry-load of chances, which means his Medals-I-Have-Won-As-A-Manchester-United-Player cupboard remains resolutely bare. Meanwhile on the Liverpool team, Stephane Henchoz adds another goal-line clearance to his vast collection of Spawny-Things-I-Have-Got-Away-With-In-The-Millennium-Stadium collection.

90 + 1 min: Michael Owen has an attempt blocked down by Rio Ferdinand. Igor Biscan replaces el Hadji Diouf. At this precise moment, Sir Alex Ferguson's face is a picture. He is raging.

89 mins: Smicer misses an open goal from approximately 10 inches after Murphy crosses brilliantly from the left. I've seen it twice and I still have no idea how he missed. Unbelievable.

85 mins: GOAL! Liverpool 2 - 0 Manchester United A brilliant goal by Michael Owen, who scores his third one-on-one against a goalkeeper in three games. It was a classic counter-attack: more sloppy play from Silvestre near the half-way line gifted the ball to Liverpool, and - I think - Hamann found Owen, who slotted it home brilliantly after galloping down the right flank. Smicer goes on instead of Baros.

83 mins: Silvestre brings down Diouf about five yards away from the corner flag. Murphy chips the ball into the box and Hyppia gets his head to it. It goes straight to Keane, who clears it out of defence.

80 mins: Ten minutes to go - can Liverpool hang on or will Manchester United get their usual injury-time equaliser/winner? Dudek pulls off another fantastic save from Van Nistelrooy, diving low to his right to parry a ferocious half-volley with his right hand. He's certainly making up for the humiliation of that game against Manchester United in December.

77 mins: Gary Neville appeals in vain for a free-kick after Jerzy Dudek picks up what could loosely be construed as a Danny Murphy backpass. "I dont think 'hoik' is a verb," writes Ian Bramley, the big pedant. Paul Scholes goes down in the Liverpool box and appeals for a penalty. Didi Hamann was nearby, but he definitely didn't touch him. The cheeky ginger boy took a dive.

76 mins: Silvestre beats Diouf to a Milan Baros through ball.

74 mins: Edi Razum writes, so that I don't have to: "I currently live in Japan to learn Japanese, and all I ever have to talk about is David Beckham. So how is his hair today, so that I can tell my teachers tomorrow?" Oh God, has it come to this?

72 mins: Liverpool go forward again, but Baros's control lets him down and he puts it out for a goal-kick. Barthez thumps it, Giggs controls and bursts through the middle. his pass to Beckham is poor and Liverpool mop up at the back. On the Manchester United team, Wes Brown makes way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

68 mins: "A little stat on how much control, passing, dribbles and crosses would be fun," writes Familien Andersen. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose, Familien. Personally, I can think of better ways of whiling away a Sunday afternoon, which involve The George pub in leafy, cosmopolitan Clapham South, a big screen and copious amounts of alcohol. Silvestre crosses one into the box, Henchoz misses his header and Beckham is mere inches away from stealing in and prodding it home. Moments later, Van Nistelrooy latches on to a brilliant ball from Scholes and Dudek saves again.

66 mins: Veron does good work on the right wing and rolls a pass in the drection of Scholes, who shoots low, hard and to Jerzy Dudek's left. The Polish goalkeeper gets down to save well.

61 mins: "The possession stats are interesting, but the key to the outcome of this game is who has the lucky dressing room?" writes Rob Hisnay from Burlington, Vermont. I believe Liverpool have it today, Rob. Meanwhile in LA, Evan Garcia writes: "What? You mean I shouldn't have given that official in Nigeria my bank account number?" I wouldn't worry about it, Evan, he could well be on the level. Liverpool miss a brilliant opportunity to go two goals up after Baros breaks, runs the length of the field and then passes to Gerrard who brings a great save out of Barthez at the nerar post. A terrible waste of a great chance.

58 mins: Van Nistelrooy swivels inside the Liverpool box and brings a smart save out of Dudek. He should have done better. Heskey appearsd to have strained a hamstring and is about to be replaced by Milan Baros.

55 mins: More pressure from Manchester United, whose passing today is leaving a lot to be desired. After a tussle with Van Nistelrooy, Jamie Carragher boots the ball out for what should be a corner but the referee awards a goal-kick. Van Nistelrooy is furious.

53 mins: A Roy Keane shot is blocked by Hyypia and goes out for a corner, from which United end up pumping ball after ball after ball into the Liverpool box. Eventually it's put out for a throw, which Gary Neville hoists into the box. The ball is headed harmlessly into Dudek's arms.

52 mins: Danny Murphy plays a one-two on the edge of the United box with Emile Heskey, who tees him up for a pop. Over the bar.

50 mins: On the inside right of the Liverpool box, Scholes tries a sneaky pass to Beckham, but the pair get their wires crossed and the ball rolls harmlessly wide.

49 mins: Silvestre hops off the field for attention and looks unlikely to return. John O'Shea starts warming up on the touchline.

47 mins: Under pressure from Gary Neville and Roy Keane. Heskey swings a leg and misses the ball in the Manchester United penalty area. He falls over and appeals for a penalty. Referee Paul Durkin is having none of it. Mikael Silvestre goes down in a heap holding his right knee after challenging Diouf.

46 mins: The second half gets underway. (Lets face it, it'd be a debacle match if it didn't.) Michael Owen gets past Wes Brown but gets the ball stuck under his feet before he can shoot. A lucky escape for Manchester United.

An interesting query from Amsterdam, courtesy of Kees Kist: "Tell me more about the playing of Two Tribes just before the match," he says. "Did they play the whole song including: 'Are we living in a land where sex and horror are the new Gods?'." Unfortunately Kist, we were spared that particular lyric, as they only played the "der-de-de-der-der" instrumental bit (if phat bass counts as an instrument) from the start. I don't think David Blunkett or the FA blazers would have approved of talk of lands where "sex and horror are the new Gods." The people of Wales probably wouldn't be too happy either, although it would make a pleasant change for them to be tarred with something other than the 'sheep, rugby and leek' brush.

"Bugger, I thought it was a 3pm kick-off," writes Stephen Love. "Balcony doors open, lovely spring day in Barcelona. Have I missed much?" Scroll back and read all about it, Stephen, you lazy living-in Spain sod.

Half-time

Interesting half-time fact: the team scoring first has won the last nine League Cup finals.

45 mins: Beckham lines up a free-kick from 32 yards out and curls it around the wall. Dudek saves comfortably. Liverpool counter and Diouf skins Silvestre once, twice ... three times down the right wing. His cross to Owen at the near post is cut out by Roy Keane, who promptly gets to his feet and gives Silvestre the mother of all bollockings.

42 mins: That goal has definitely brought this match to life. Liverpool win a free-kick which Murphy hoiks into the box. United clear, but only as far as Murphy. Carragher and Diouf combine down the right and Heskey can't quite get on the end of a good cross from the Senegal winger. Manchester United counter and a superb reflex save from Dudek is followed by a brilliant clearance off the line by Henchoz from a Scholes follow-up. Game on.

39 mins: GOAL Liverpool 1 - 0 Manchester United
Once again, I prove myself to be the anti-Nostradamus. An absolutely stunning goal from Steven Gerrard. From about five yards outside the box on the left, he unleashed a thunderbolt which took a deflection off David Beckham and flew into the top right-hand corner. It was an unstoppable screamer. Desperate defending from Beckham, who should have made a much better effort to close down Gerrard.

36 mins: Veron catches Owen with a high foot. Free-kick for Liverpool. Carragher pumps it forward and Heskey knocks it down to Diouf, who gives it away. Murphy traps a dropping ball, turns Roy Keane and shoots over the bar. Liverpool have really started taking the game to United since I gave out about them. I'm sure the two events are in no way related.

33 mins: Stephane Henchoz boots one out of defence but nobody makes a run for him and it goes straight to Barthez. From midfield, Heskey plays it wide-ish to Owen, who skips around Ferdinand as if he wasn't there. Unfortunately for the Liverpool stirker, his touch is poor and Barthez beats him to the ball at the near post. It was close, though.

31 mins: Liverpool are happy to sit back while Manchester United repeatedly try and unlock their defence. After half an hour, United have had two shots on goal and Liverpool have had none. No shock there, then.

25 mins: This match is steadfastly failing to live up to its hype. Another e-mail, from one of my devotees: "I am Williams Duru the Director of Operations with CHALLENGE SECURITIES Lagos here in Nigeria," it begins, before making me a get-rich-quick offer involving bloodless coups, bank accounts, the Federal Republic of Zaire and "our client" President Mobutu Seseseko. "This Transaction is 100% risk free," Williams adds at the end of his ludicrous proposal, somewhat unconvincingly. If he knew how much money I have, he'd soon stop spamming me. Still, I do love a good bloodless coup.

23 mins: Manchester United are edging it at the moment. This match would probably improve considerably if they scored first, as it would mean Liverpool would have to try and play some proper football for a change.

20 mins: Keane picks up the ball in his own half and drills a low pass to Scholes, who in turn feeds Giggs on the left hand side of the Liverpool box. Van Nistelrooy gets a touch on the ensuing low cross, and the ball beats Dudek and rolls this wide of the far post. The best chance of the match so far.

18 mins: First half possession stats so far: Liverpool 47%, Manchester United 52% Don't knows 1%. Now isn't that fascinating? Heskey goes down holding his head after getting a clout from Rio Ferdinand when they both jumped a high ball.

17 mins: An almost identical move from Liverpool, except this time it's Diouf's crossing that lets him down after Murphy's pass.

15 mins: Diouf finds Danny Murphy down the right wing with a dinky little pass, but the midfielder's cross is terrible. Barthez collects.

12 mins: Stephane Henchoz gets booked. As usual where bookings are concerned, I have no idea why. Perhaps it's for looking scruffy and not shaving this morning, because he appears as if he was dragged through a hedge backwards. Ryan Giggs has the first shot in anger, but Dudek is equal to his drive from the edge of the 18 yard box.

10 mins: Riise pumps one up the field and Brown clears. Gerrard tries to find Murphy with a pass, but Beckham cuts it out. Moments later, Hamann tries to thread one through for Heskey but his pass is too far away from the big man.

4 mins: Danny Murphy lofts a free-kick deep into the Manchester United box. Heskey and Barthez jump for it together, and the Manchester United goalkeeper grabs it cleanly. He gets (accidentally) walloped in the face for his troubles, however, and needs treatment. The emails are flooding in already. Here it is: "Looking forward to the match here in Germany as well," writes Swedish Marie (aka The Hogaly). "Can you give a big 'Hi' to all the Liverpool fans for me please? Come on Liverpool!" What, all of them? Individually? That could take a while, Marie, but I'll do my best.

3 mins: Gary Neville gets clattered and, if this was a cartoon, would have little birds "cheep cheeping" around his head. After a couple of minutes he's okay. Manchester United are having the better of the early exchanges, although there's been nothing resembling a shot on goal for either side, yet.

2 mins: Heskey gets penalised for a foul on Veron. Heskey feels hard done by and claims he got the ball, but a replay shows his tackle was a bit late.

1 min: Liverpool kick off, 20 years after beating Manchester United in the final of this competition. Only last Thursday, after one of the most turgid football matches I've ever seen, I said that I nevber wanted to watch another Liverpool match as long as I lived. Needless to say, here I am again. Here's hoping they put on a more entertaining show against Manchester United than they did against Auxerre. Gary Neville puts a long throw into the Liverpool box and Hyppia heads clear.

Preamble

The Millennium Stadium is bulging, the roof is closed and Ryan Giggs has recovered from his injury to take his place in Manchester United's line-up. He's the only player in Sir Alex Ferguson's side to have won this competition before. Nothing too surprising in Liverpool's starting XI: John Arne Riise replaces Djimi Traore at left back, after the latter's somewhat hapless performance against Auxerre in the Uefa Cup on Thursday night.

Manchester United are wearing their (latest) white away shirt, although there's every likelihood they'll have brought out a new one before the final whistle is blown. the teams emerge from the tunnel led by their managers to Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Two Tribes', thunderous applause and the kind of pyrotechnics display that Guy Fawkes himself would be proud of.

The guest of honour is Lucy the dog and her Sheffield Wednesday supporting Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

Copyright - The Guardian

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