Sixth defeat in a row

Sixth defeat in a row. There were recurring signs during the match – that better was expected from Liverpool this time around but Man Utd survived a lucky escap and moved six points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Roy Evans’ post match reaction: "I thought we deserved something out of this game. I thought we deserved to win it. We had more of the ball and the better chances. Only at the death when we were chasing it did they make chances."

The champions also had an amazing escape in the 69th minute. Andrei Kanchelskis pulled down Michael Thomas in the box and referee Keith Hackett gave the penalty to United's horror - only to see a linesman flagging. The two officials consulted and a free-kick was awarded to United with Thomas having been ruled as the initial culprit.

United travelled to close rivals Blackburn with their confidence temporarily shored up - but it was Liverpool who were the better side for long stretches in front of United's best crowd of the season.

After a miserable ten days, with three players sent off in three games and defeat in the Coca-Cola Cup final, United had a great pre-match boost with Blackburn's defeat at Wimbledon 24 hours earlier. Ferguson brought back goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and winger Lee Sharpe - dropping Ryan Giggs to the subs' bench - but United displayed little early fluency.

Liverpool, who have now lost their last five games, started brightly as Michael Thomas and Neil Ruddock both went close early on. Jamie Redknapp then hit the side netting before United mustered themselves, with Eric Cantona shooting weakly at David James. Mark Hughes, United's best player, then put an effort over the bar before Schmeichel had to make another save from Redknapp.

But eight minutes before half-time United got the breakthrough they barely deserved when Sharpe's inswinging corner from the right was glanced home by the unmarked Ince. John Barnes saw his deflected shot held by Schmeichel before Roy Keane and then Hughes missed good chances for United. James had to save at the feet of Sharpe, who was then replaced by Giggs, and Kanchelskis shot a foot wide as United started to dominate.

As Liverpool tried to save the game, 37-year-old Bryan Robson came on for Cantona - and then Giggs missed a sitter after good work by Kanchelskis.

Ian Rush was booked in frustration for Liverpool as he clattered into Steve Bruce - but time ran out for the men from Anfield as United held on for what could be their most vital three points of the season.

Ferguson added: "We were all pleased to have won. I was worried about the effects of playing at Wembley. It wasn't the result that bothered me but the fact that it is such an exciting and stamina-sapping pitch there."

Copyright - British soccer week

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