Dudek hands United victory
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester United kept their title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Liverpool.Manchester United kept their title hopes alive with a deserved 1-0 win over lacklustre Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
Jerzy Dudek endured another nightmare against United for the third season in a row as he inexplicably let Wayne Rooney's shot past him for the only goal of the game.
United were forced to play the last 25 minutes with ten men after Wes Brown was sent off, but their lead was rarely threatened as they held on for three vital points.
Luis Garcia had the first noteworthy chance on three minutes as he got ahead of Gabriel Heinze to Fernando Morientes' flick on but he could not get his effort on target.
Four minutes later Sami Hyypia got a vital touch on Phil Neville's cross to deny Louis Saha a sight of goal after a neat move by United.
Garcia wasted a great opportunity a minute later when he broke from the halfway line, but instead of feeding the unmarked Morientes he dallied over the ball allowing Mikael Silvestre to get in a block.
Baros almost got through on 20 minutes when he burst past Silvestre to get into the box only for Heinze to clear the danger for a corner.
From the resulting corner Morientes climbed above Roy Keane to power a header down into the ground and straight at Roy Carroll.
United broke the deadlock against the run of play on 21 minutes when Rooney scored his first goal against Liverpool after a terrible blunder by Dudek.
Rooney was allowed to pick up the ball fully 30 yards from goal and fired in a shot which somehow squirmed through the hands of Dudek.
The goal left Liverpool shellshocked and Heinze missed a great opportunity two minutes later when he rose to head Darren Fletcher's corner onto the roof of the net.
United came within inches of doubling their lead on the half hour mark when Paul Scholes picked out Keane on the edge of the box and the Irishman took one touch before flashing a brilliant shot against the crossbar.
Liverpool tried to rally themselves before half time, with Neville deflecting Steven Gerrard's shot wide on 41 minutes.
Morientes had two chances before the break to open his account for his new employers when he firstly brilliantly took down Garcia's pass on the edge of the box before firing well wide and secondly he flashed a header wide from Garcia's cross under pressure from Neville.
Liverpool tried to raise the tempo at the start of the second half and Garcia signalled their intentions right after the restart with a drilled shot over the crossbar.
Riise almost got Morientes through on goal on 48 minutes with a clever pass, but Heinze got back to get in a vital last-ditch tackle.
United were dominating possession in midfield and they were happy to keep the ball away from Liverpool even though they failed to create any real chances despite their superiority.
United were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes when Wes Brown was sent off for his second bookable offence after a scything tackle on Riise.
Rooney picked up a booking on 72 minutes when he appeared to kick out at Garcia after being tackled by the Spaniard.
Substitute Igor Biscan had an effort on goal with his first touch on 80 minutes when he rose highest to meet fellow substitute Antonio Nunez's cross, but his header was comfortably collected by Carroll.
Liverpool huffed and puffed in a bid to get back into the game, and Garcia fired wide with an ambitious volley in the final minute.
Carragher almost drew Liverpool level in stoppage time when Gerrard rolled a free kick into his path on the edge of the box, but Carroll kept out his shot with his feet.
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Liverpool v Man United
|Liverpool||Team Name||Manchester United|
|3||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|9||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||4|
|13||Total Fouls Conceded||28|