League Cup: Manchester United 1 Liverpool 0
By Football News
Manchester United ruined Luis Suarez's return to action with a 1-0 League Cup victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The controversial striker played a prominent role in an entertaining cup tie, but Javier Hernandez's close-range finish early in the second half ensured United would move into the fourth round and avenge their defeat by the same scoreline at Anfield earlier this month.
The return of Suarez following the completion his 10-match ban for biting dominated the build-up, with the Uruguayan restored to a strong starting line-up by manager Brendan Rodgers.
United, meanwhile, made a number of alterations, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick excluded, though Wayne Rooney was handed the captain's armband as he started in attack.
Despite David Moyes making wholesale changes, his side undoubtedly started the match with greater fluency than their rivals, with Nani's powerful left-footed drive forcing Martin Skrtel into a block within the opening five minutes.
However, Liverpool soon fashioned a chance of their own, only for Daniel Sturridge to inexplicably leave a Steven Gerrard ball across the box seemingly in the belief that a team-mate was poised to score.
Suarez was presented with two promising opportunities soon after, but opted to shoot when he should have passed with the first before doing the opposite with his next chance as the visitors failed to find the breakthrough. And the Liverpool forward came even closer soon after, but could not catch up with a slightly loose touch from Jose Enrique's long pass, allowing David de Gea to gratefully collect at his feet.
The visitors in fact created several dangerous situations before the break but, much like United whenever they got near the opposition box, failed to find the right final pass to create a goal. But it did not take long for the deadlock to be broken in the second period.
The hosts underlined their intent as they burst forward in the opening seconds of the half, winning a corner almost immediately as Mamadou Sakho failed to clear. And, after easily escaping the attentions of Enrique in the box, Hernandez side-footed home to put United ahead.
Liverpool had arguably had the best of the game up to that point, and rallied well to create a number of good chances soon after. However, Jordan Henderson side-footed wide when he should have done better in the box, before Suarez dragged an effort wide from the edge of the area after being given a clear run through the United midfield.
Victor Moses then had the visitors' best opportunity of the match in the 70th minute, but failed to direct his diving header either side of De Gea and allowed the Spaniard to desperately palm away. And, after Shinji Kagawa's rasping effort clipped the bar on the break, Suarez matched the Japanese by doing the same with a self-won free-kick that had deflected off the head of Phil Jones in the wall, leaving De Gea with no chance.
Liverpool's search for an equaliser left a number of spaces for United to exploit, and Rooney almost made the visitors pay as he brought two brilliant saves from Simon Mignolet with a free-kick and a follow-up effort.
But neither side could find the extra goal, as United held on to take their place in the next round.