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Match Report | Chelsea v Liverpool – 6th February 2011 | Sky Sports | Football News.

Reds ruin Torres’ Blues bow

Meireles strike dents Chelsea’s title bid and lifts Liverpool into sixth

By Chris Burton Last updated: 6th February 2011   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Raul Meireles Liverpool celeb v Chelsea

Meireles: Grabbed the only goal

Chelsea v Liverpool Martin Skrtel Fernando Torres

Torres: No way through

Man of the match: Steven Gerrard was Liverpool’s inspiration and led by example.

Moment of the match: Maxi Rodrigues somehow managed to hit the bar from six-yards out in the first period.

Attempt of the match: It looked like the Fernando Torres of old when he was about to pull the trigger in the box, but Jamie Carragher made a superb block to deny him.

Save of the match: Pepe Reina had little to do but his block from Florent Malouda was vital.

Talking point: Fernando Torres’ debut was the obvious headline maker before the game, but he was well below-par and it will be interesting to see how far Chelsea are prepared to go to accommodate their new £50m striker.

Raul Meireles ensured Fernando Torres endured an afternoon to forget on Sunday, with Liverpool claiming a 1-0 win away at Chelsea.

All the talk prior to kick-off was of the Blues’ £50million forward, but he got little change out of a Reds outfit set up by Kenny Dalglish to frustrate and nullify the hosts’ considerable attacking threat.

In the end it was Meireles who stole the headlines, with the Portuguese playmaker grabbing the only goal of the game at Stamford Bridge.

It took less than two minutes for the man of the moment to get away his first shot for his new club, but Torres’ radar was off on this occasion as he curled into the stands after picking up a stray pass from former colleague Maxi Rodriguez.

Chelsea had already seen John Obi Mikel booked by that stage, with just 30 seconds on the clock when the Nigerian midfielder saw yellow for a clumsy challenge on Steven Gerrard.

The pre-match hype was overshadowing proceedings, with the first 15 minutes offering little more than some gentle sparring.

Both sides entered the tie knowing that rivals had slipped up on Saturday, with Chelsea chasing league leaders Manchester United and Liverpool hoping to oust Sunderland in sixth.

They were not prepared to take risks, though, with a Didier Drogba shot which deflected narrowly wide off Frank Lampard as close as either side came early on.

From the resulting goal-kick, Pepe Reina played Martin Skrtel into trouble and he was fortunate to force his way through Nicolas Anelka after turning straight into the Frenchman on the edge of the box.

Chelsea were seeing plenty of the ball at this stage, but a hooked cross from the buccaneering Ashley Cole summed up their efforts as no-one in blue was on hand to challenge inside the area.

Branislav Ivanovic, who Liverpool should have needed no introduction to following his European exploits in 2009, saw a couple of headers from corners flash wide, but Torres had his moment shortly after the half-hour mark.


Drogba slid an inch-perfect pass into his new strike partner, but the most expensive player in British football was unable to drill a low shot past a typically robust block from the returning Jamie Carragher.

The visitors should have taken the lead a couple of minutes later, but Maxi somehow failed to find the target from five yards out.

Gerrard drove across the face of goal and, having ghosted in at the back post, Liverpool’s Argentinian forward skewed the ball onto the face of the crossbar off his ankle.

Chelsea’s defence was rattled again in first-half stoppage-time, with Petr Cech and Ivanovic becoming embroiled in an angry exchange after colliding as they both went for a Martin Kelly delivery which posed no threat.

Liverpool settled into the second half quickly, spraying the ball around with confidence, but it was Drogba who had the first chance after the break, with Carragher doing just about enough to prevent the Ivorian from testing Reina with an acrobatic overhead kick.

On 53 minutes Dirk Kuyt contemplated throwing himself at a hanging cross, but opted instead to recycle possession and Glen Johnson lashed a fizzing shot inches over the top after being teed up 20 yards out.

Moments later Drogba saw an effort bundled behind, after Cole had tumbled inside the box but was waved back to his feet.

Anelka tried his luck from distance, as Liverpool stood off their former forward, but once again a defender in red was able put himself in the path of the ball and divert it away from goal.

It was no surprise on the hour mark to see activity on both benches, with Dalglish and Carlo Ancelotti contemplating changes after seeing Plan A draw a blank.

Anelka came close to breaking the deadlock before the alterations arrived, crashing a drilled shot past an upright, but it was apparent that fresh legs were required to add extra impetus to the game.

With 65 minutes gone, Torres’ afternoon came to a premature end as he made way for Salomon Kalou – with his departure greeted with cheers and jeers from opposite ends of the ground.


Within seconds of the Spaniard settling on the bench, Essien burst clear of his midfield shackles and lofted a left-footed effort over the top.

Then, on 69 minutes, the opening goal finally arrived, with Chelsea’s failure to deal with a Gerrard cross from the right allowing the in-form Meireles to fire into the back of an unguarded net.

The response from the hosts was immediate, with Florent Malouda forcing a smart save from Reina shortly after replacing the ineffective Mikel.

Chelsea then handed a debut to the second of their big-money arrivals, with highly-rated Brazilian defender David Luiz introduced to the locals in place of Jose Bosingwa.

Dalglish was now happy to settle for a narrow victory, with the forward-thinking Maxi replaced by the defensively-minded Fabio Aurelio as Liverpool looked to shut up shop.

The Reds boss would have been concerned to see his side retreat further and further into their shell, but Chelsea’s need to score saw them leave gaping holes at the back.

Aurelio almost benefited from those defensive frailties 10 minutes from time, as Liverpool countered at pace, but he saw a shot with his weaker right foot comfortably beaten away by Cech.

Liverpool then added further steel to their midfield ranks as Christian Poulsen allowed goal-hero Meireles to take a well-earned rest.

Chelsea huffed and puffed in pursuit of a leveller, with Ivanovic pushed forward to try and add another attacking threat, especially in the air.

Their efforts came to nothing, though, with Liverpool looking the more likely to add a second in the closing stages as Kuyt attempted to take advantage of the open space left in behind the Blues’ back four.

Defeat leaves reigning champions Chelsea 10 points adrift of Manchester United, while Liverpool now sit sixth – six points adrift of the top four and dreaming of a UEFA Champions League spot which seemed so unlikely at the turn of the year.


Liverpool football club

Liverpool football club.


Kenny – Carroll can be star | Sky Sports | Liverpool News | Football | Premier League 

Kenny – Carroll can be star

Anfield positivity shines as record signing is officially unveiled


Kenny - Carroll can be star 

Carroll: £35m arrival from Newcastle

We know he is a young boy. We know the price is maybe a bit more than what some people think it should be.

Kenny Dalglish on Andy Carroll

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is not concerned about record signing Andy Carroll dealing with the weight of expectancy that comes with a £35million price-tag.

The former Newcastle No.9 moved to Anfield on transfer deadline day as a replacement for Fernando Torres, who joined Chelsea in a £50m deal, while Luis Suarez has also arrived from Ajax.

Much has been made of the fee paid for Carroll, who only became a Premier League first-team regular for Newcastle, last season’s Championship winners, in the opening six months of this season.

But Dalglish has no doubts that the 11-goal 22-year-old, having made his England debut against France in November, will be able to live up to expectations.

The Liverpool manager told a press conference: “I would like to reassure Andy that we are more upbeat about Andy coming than I think yourselves are.


“Every single question has got negativity in it. We don’t see any reason whatsoever to be negative in any shape or form about Andy signing for Liverpool football club.

“It is a great signing for us, as is Luis. It is fantastic for us.”

Liverpool’s parent company, Fenway Sports Group, deemed Carroll met their recruitment criteria of age, potential and marketing value and he was duly paraded at Anfield before kick-off in Wednesday’s win over Stoke, when Suarez scored the second goal.

The Gateshead-born striker then took a seat in the stands due to his ongoing thigh injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined until the end of February, and Dalglish is excited about the prospect of his eventual recovery.

He continued: “We are looking forward to it, really looking forward to getting him fit, up and ready and working and I’m sure he is anxious as well. He has just got to be conscious of the fact that he doesn’t push himself too hard.

Fantastic potential

“So we’ll look after him, get him fit and he will play when he’s fit and ready.

“He has got fantastic potential. He is already part of the England squad and he’s the best person we could have got in here to play with the No.9 shirt.

“And at such a young age, when you consider what he has gone through, he wore the No.9 shirt at Newcastle, which is a fantastic honour and he can wear the No.9 here as well.

“That is a lot to carry on your shoulders and he showed by what he did at Newcastle that he is capable of doing that. Anybody who can wear that shirt up there and score goals has got a chance.

“We know he is a young boy. We know the price is maybe a bit more than what some people think it should be. But then every single person in here (the press conference) has got to justify their wages and their cost.

“So, if you can do that for yourself, then I’m sure he can do that for himself.”


Andy Carroll: The first photos – Liverpool FC

Andy Carroll: The first photos – Liverpool FC 


Reds agree Carroll fee – Liverpool FC

Reds agree Carroll fee – Liverpool FC 


31st Jan 2011 – Latest News

BBC Sport – Football – Liverpool reject Fernando Torres transfer request

BBC Sport – Football – Liverpool reject Fernando Torres transfer request 

Liverpool reject Fernando Torres transfer request

Fernando Torres 

Torres has scored three goals in his last four games for Liverpool

Liverpool are bracing themselves for a new bid for Fernando Torres from Chelsea after rejecting a transfer request from the Spanish striker.

The Anfield club have already turned down a bid from Chelsea – thought to be about £35m-40m – for the 26-year-old.

“He’s under a long-term contract. We expect him to honour the commitment he made to Liverpool and its fans when he signed,” said the Reds in a statement.

“He has submitted a written transfer request, which has been rejected.”

Torres, who joined Liverpool in 2007, has been linked with Chelsea before.

The Blues were reported to be interested in luring the Spaniard from Anfield in the summer of 2008 and made a bid in May of last year.

However, on 3 August 2010, Torres pledged his loyalty to Liverpool after helping Spain win the World Cup in South Africa.

He said at the time: “My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed.”

Torres joined the Reds in July 2007, signing a six-year contract after completing a £20m switch from Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

He scored three hat-tricks in his first season on Merseyside, scoring 33 goals in 46 appearances and netted the winner as Spain beat Germany 1-0 to win the European Championship in 2008.


Hamstring injuries plagued the following season but he still managed 17 goals in 38 games, while groin problems and knee surgery disrupted his 2009-10 campaign, although he still managed to find the net 22 times in 32 games.

Torres picked up a World Cup winners’ medal with Spain but he failed to score during the finals in South Africa and pulled up with an abductor problem in the final, having come on as an 89th-minute substitute in the 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.

He has endured an indifferent season on Merseyside, scoring just nine goals in 26 games and handed in a written transfer request on Friday despite Liverpool looking to have bolstered their attacking options by agreeing a £23m fee with Ajax for their striker Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan, who has yet to agree personal terms or pass a medical, has scored 111 goals in 159 appearances for the Dutch side and his protracted transfer was expected to provide support up front for Torres rather than replacing him.

Although he scored twice in the Reds’ 2-0 win over Chelsea in November, Torres looked a forlorn figure under previous Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.

However, he has looked revitalised under new boss Kenny Dalglish, scoring three goals in his last four games.

Liverpool moved up to seventh in the Premier League table following their 1-0 victory over Fulham on Wednesday, but they still face a fight to qualify for the Champions League next season, with Chelsea nine points ahead of them in fourth spot.

The Reds are not in action this weekend, having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Manchester United, and Dalglish is not scheduled to speak to the media until Monday – transfer deadline day – when he holds a planned press conference ahead of Wednesday’s home Premier League game against Stoke.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to talk about Torres, preferring to focus on the Blues’ FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton on Saturday, but said he is happy that “the club are trying to do everything they can to improve the squad”.

With the transfer window open until 2300 GMT on Monday, there is still time for the Blues to increase their offer for should they wish.

Ancelotti said: “I don’t want to speak about this, you will have to ask the club. He is not my player and I have to have respect for Liverpool.

“I’m not surprised, because I know very well what the club is doing now. I am happy because the club is doing a fantastic job in this transfer market.”

Although Ancelotti’s team have failed to fully replicate their form of last term where they won the Premier League title, they are still in the Champions League and are 10 points behind league leaders Manchester United.

Ancelotti has previously hinted that he wanted to bring in new players to bolster an ageing squad stretched by injuries this season.

And with the club close to signing Benfica defender David Luiz, the bid for Torres shows that Chelsea are still prepared to use their financial muscle to boost their domestic and European ambitions.

Liverpool vs Everton Preview –

Liverpool – Everton Preview: Steven Gerrard & Jamie Carragher miss Merseyside derby as Kenny Dalgish seeks first win

By Adithya Ananth

FA Cup - Manchester United vs Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish(Getty Images) 

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FA Cup – Manchester United vs Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish(Getty Images)

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Daniel Agger, Martin Kelly, Christian Poulsen and Daniel Agger recently received encouraging words from manager Kenny Dalglish, and could all be set to start this game. Jamie Carragher (shoulder) remains sidelined following his surgery, while Joe Cole and Jay Spearing are doubts for this one. Steven Gerrard will play no part in this game since he is suspended.

Possible starting line-up: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Kelly; Kuyt, Lucas, Poulsen, Meireles; Cole; Torres.


David Moyes has revealed that the Toffees have accepted an offer for Steven Pienaar from an unnamed club, but the South Africa international could still play in this game. Phil Jagielka (thigh) was expected to be in contention to feature in the Merseyside derby, but he has been unable to recover well enough to take part in the mammoth encounter at Anfield. Tim Cahill is unavailable since he is away on international duty at the Asian Cup.

Possible starting line-up: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Fellaini, Rodwell, Arteta, Pienaar; Saha.

Dalglish looking for first win

Liverpool recently sacked Roy Hodgson after an underwhelming campaign and brought in former boss and club legend Kenny Dalglish to take the reins on a temporary basis. But the Scot is yet to taste victory in his second stint at the helm.

His first game in charge was against Manchester United in the FA Cup, which ended in a 1-0 defeat to his side. This was followed by a trip to Bloomfield Road, where the Reds surrendered the lead before allowing the hosts to snatch a victory.

Now for the Merseyside derby. It is almost two decades since Dalglish suddenly quit the very position he holds, after his side played out a 4-4 draw with these very opponents.

The 59-year-old is held as a true legend of the club as a player as well as a manager, but his status could be dimmed if he is unable to bring about a resurrection in the team’s dreadful form. But on the contrary, a positive achievement – and a victory over Moyes’ men, for now – will do a world of good to the team as well as himself.

Blues need the points too

It is almost as if the two clubs on Merseyside are sympathising with each other stooping down to newer lows, as only goal difference separates both teams in the Premier League.

This means that the derby takes an added significance as both teams are only four points above the relegation zone, and the loser could face potentially very difficult consequences in terms of getting back up in the standings.

The visitors were having some trouble converting their chances in recent weeks, but were able to successfully put five past Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup. But their current opponents are not a team that sit in the Championship drop zone, which would make the task all the more difficult.

To add to the Moyes’ woes, Australian Tim Cahill is away on international duty in the Asia Cup and will play no part in this game. But on the positive side, the Toffees have won their last two games and the cup win should give them enough confidence to hope for the right result at Anfield.

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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
25 José Reina Paez Goalkeeper
2 Glen Johnson Defender
5 Daniel Agger Defender
37 Martin Skrtel Defender
34 Martin Kelly Defender
17 Maxi Rodríguez Midfielder
21 Lucas Midfielder
4 Raúl Meireles Midfielder
28 Christian Poulsen Midfielder
18 Dirk Kuyt Striker
9 Fernando Torres Striker
24 Tim Howard Goalkeeper
3 Leighton Baines Defender
15 Sylvain Distin Defender
5 John Heitinga Defender
18 Phil Neville Defender
20 Steven Pienaar Midfielder
10 Mikel Arteta Midfielder
21 Leon Osman Midfielder
25 Marouane Fellaini Midfielder
31 Seamus Coleman Defender
8 Louis Saha Striker
Players to Watch
Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres
20 7 4 0
Fernando Torres will have to step up his game in the absence of skipper Steven Gerrard and defender Jamie Carragher, and may have to do some serious damage up front if the hosts are to change their fortunes. 

Phil Neville
Phil Neville
POSITION: Defender
16 0 3 0
Phil Neville was linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur recently, before manager David Moyes came out dismissing the idea. The former Manchester United man will likely have a say in the proceedings if the Toffees are to continue to build on their last two results.
Probable Lineups
José Reina Paez25
Glen Johnson2
Daniel Agger5
Martin Skrtel37
Martin Kelly34
Maxi Rodríguez17
Raúl Meireles4
Christian Poulsen28
Dirk Kuyt18
Fernando Torres9
Tim Howard24
Leighton Baines3
Sylvain Distin15
John Heitinga5
Phil Neville18
Steven Pienaar20
Mikel Arteta10
Leon Osman21
Marouane Fellaini25
Seamus Coleman31
Louis Saha8
The game should be a hard fought one that could end in an entertaining draw between the two sides. 

Editor’s Prediction
Now You Predict the Match!

– 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

– 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Players’ chief Gordon Taylor has described the Football Association as “very precious” for charging Liverpool winger Ryan Babel over Twitter posts.

Babel linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after the Reds lost 1-0 to United in the FA Cup on Sunday.

“Where’s our sense of humour gone in our game?” Taylor, Professional Footballers’ Association head, asked.

“He’s apologised, let’s move on,” he added on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Babel, who has been accused of improper conduct by the FA, subsequently removed the link and wrote an apology on Twitter.

The 24-year-old’s original comments followedLiverpool’s 1-0 third-round defeat at Old Trafford.

My apology if they take my posted picture seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game
Ryan Babel apologises on Twitter

In addition to posting a link to the doctored picture of Webb, Babel wrote: “And they call him one of the best referees. That’s a joke.”

The Dutchman has more than 166,000 other Twitter users following his updates and his messages and the offending image was subsequently reproduced in the media.

Ryan Giggs scored the game’s only goal from a spot-kick awarded by Webb for Daniel Agger’s apparent foul on Dimitar Berbatov inside the first minute.

Webb later sent off Steven Gerrard after 32 minutes for a challenge on Michael Carrick.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish labelled the penalty decision“a joke”and also disagreed with the red card for his captain.

However, Taylor believes the FA have been too heavy-handed in their reaction to Babel’s online criticisms.

“He’s apologised and has said he’s sorry, let’s move on,” Taylor added on BBC Radio Merseyside.

“I would think that Howard Webb is a big enough man, a big enough person and good enough referee to take it.

“To my mind, and to most footballers’ minds, it is the same sort of stuff that flies about every weekend via mobile phones, but they are obviously taking a stance on it. I thought a warning would have been sufficient.”

Babel, a Netherlands international, is believed to be the first player charged with improper conduct relating to a post on the social networking site.

“My apology if they take my posted picture seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game. Sorry Howard Webb,” Babel wrote on Twitter by way of an apology.

He then joked about spending a spell in “Twitter jail” and his previously prolific posts stopped on Sunday evening.

It is not the first time that a Liverpool member of staff has been drawn into controversy through their use of the website.

Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney (day five):
England 644 beat Australia 280 & 281 by an innings and 83 runs
Match scorecard

England raise the urn 

All three England wins were achieved by an innings margin
By Oliver Brett

England won the final Ashes Test in Sydney by an innings and 83 runs to wrap up the series 3-1 and secure their first win down under in 24 years.

Australia began play in a hopeless position at 213-7, 151 runs behind, and after a rain delay they were all out for 281 with Steve Smith not out on 54.

The crowd, made up almost entirely of England fans, was let in free and produced a superb atmosphere.

England captain Andrew Strauss said: “We’re delighted with what we’ve done.”

Peter Siddle and Steve Smith kept England’s champagne on ice in the early part of the day before the players were forced off by rain after less than 25 minutes play.

England celebrate Ashes triumph

When they returned 40 minutes later in glorious sunshine, Siddle finally went for 43 when slog-sweeping spinner Graeme Swann after a stand of 86.

James Anderson removed Ben Hilfenhaus before Chris Tremlett bowled Michael Beer with the score on 281.

With the second new ball almost due, Swann finally struck for the first time in the innings, and the last two wickets fell within a further six overs – Hilfenhaus providing Matt Prior with his 23rd catch of the series before Beer chopped a delivery onto his stumps.

The final wicket sparked emotional celebrations for England, while the contrast in the Australian camp could not have been starker.


The chaos in the home dressing room was underlined when Michael Clarke, the stand-in skipper for this Test, resigned from Twenty20 internationals minutes after the official presentations.

England’s fans dominated the Sydney Cricket Ground with the Barmy Army’s songs and chants echoing around the famous arena.

Victorious skipper Andrew Strauss joined Sir Len Hutton and Mike Brearley to become only the third England captain to win Ashes series at home and away.

“We came over here desperately wanting to win the series,” said Strauss, who was captain when England regained the Ashes at home in 2009.

“Obviously in Melbourne we retained the Ashes but we really wanted to finish with a bang here in Sydney.

“All credit to the guys, they’ve been outstanding again, the way the bowlers bowled on day one, the batsmen dipped their bread in it again and we got another victory.

“We’re certainly going to enjoy this evening, that’s for sure.”

Anderson, part of the England team whitewashed 5-0 in Australia four years ago, finished with 3-61 for 24 wickets in the series and the best haul by an England bowler in Australia since Frank “Typhoon” Tyson collected 28 in 1954-55.

He said: “It’s been a great tour for us, an amazing sort of feeling for us retaining the Ashes last week and winning the series this week.

James Anderson and Alastair Cook 

Anderson and Cook both produced career-defining series

“I’m delighted with my form this trip, enjoying my role in the team leading the attack. My job has been made easy by the guys at the other end, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad at the start of the series and Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan later on, and our fielding has been amazing.

“We’ve been working really hard on it, the catches we’ve taken this series are better than any I remember in any other series.”

Paul Collingwood, given the honour of leading out the England team on his final day as a Test cricketer, said: “Today is absolute number one. It’s a special, special day and I can’t think of a better way to step out of Test cricket. A lot of guys in the dressing room put a lot of hard work in to achieve this.

“My role in the side is to score runs, I’m disappointed I haven’t done that. But four years ago I scored a double century and we lost 5-0 and I much prefer it this way round. We deserve it.”

It was the first time any team had won three Tests by an innings in a single series away from home. The last time England had done it against any opponents, India, had been in 1959.

It was also the first time Australia had lost three Tests at home since 1988-89, when Viv Richards’ world-beating West Indies side also won by a 3-1 margin.

Alastair Cook was both man of the match and man of the series, having hit 189 in Sydney and 766 across all five matches.

“It’s been an amazing series for me, I couldn’t imagine this seven weeks ago,” he said.

“The double hundred [in Brisbane] was a very special moment for me and to win man of the match in the final game of the Ashes is a dream come true.

“Our bowlers have been fantastic throughout the whole series, they’ve made our job as batters far easier.”

Kevin Pietersen hailed the team effort, saying: “It’s amazing to win so convincingly in Australia. It’s all credit to the team and the management.

“Every single bloke has done something to make it such a great trip.

“Every single time an occasion has been needed, one of us has stood up. I did in Adelaide, but every single bloke, player, member of the backroom staff has been outstanding.”


England coach Andy Flower said the victory was an “emotional moment” for the players and the entire backroom team.

“A lot of hard work, effort, heartache and some sweat and tears go into winning any game of cricket. Over a five-match series it takes even more effort and no mean amount of skill, and I think the guys are very proud of all those things.

“We’ve got to enjoy it now – and share in the experience. We share the hardships along the way and we have to share the good moments too.”

And British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the team, calling the series victory a “fantastic achievement”.

“I’ve spoken to Andrew Strauss this morning and congratulated the team, coaches and everyone behind the side on this tremendous victory,” said Cameron.

“Retaining the Ashes was a fantastic achievement, but winning the series really is the icing on the cake. We’ve seen some great sporting moments over the series and the team have provided us with some brilliant memories that I’m sure fans will talk about for years to come.

“The whole country is incredibly proud of them.”

England remain third in the International Cricket Council Test rankings, but have closed the gap on second-placed South Africa to two points.

India remain at the top of the table after their series in South Africa ended in a 1-1 draw just hours before England’s triumph in Sydney.

After 32 seconds Kenny Dalglish was reminded what a frustrating game this can be. After 32 minutes he must have been longing for that cruise ship; the chance to be back in a marina with wife Marina.

This was a tough re-introduction to the world Dalglish has been away from for more than 12 years.

Not enough to make his head explode but not far off given the dubious nature of the penalty that secured victory for Manchester United and the reckless nature of the challenge that then led to the dismissal of Steven Gerrard.

Spot on: Ryan Giggs puts Manchester United ahead in the opening minutes after Dimitar Berbatov won a controversial penalty 

Spot on: Ryan Giggs puts Manchester United ahead in the opening minutes after Dimitar Berbatov won a controversial penalty


Manchester United (4-4-2): Kuszczak 6;
Rafael 7, Ferdinand 8, Evans 7 (Smalling
84min), Evra 7; Nani 6, Fletcher 6
(Anderson 63, 6), Carrick 7, Giggs 8;
Hernandez 6 (Owen 75, 6), Berbatov 6.
Booked: Fletcher, Anderson.

Liverpool (4-3-2-1): Reina 8; Kelly 7,
Skrtel 6, Agger 6, Aurelio 6; Meireles 6
(Shelvey 60, 6), Lucas 6, Gerrard 6;
Kuyt 6, Rodriguez 6 (Babel 60, 6);
Torres 6 (Ngog 77).
Sent off: Gerrard.

Man of the match: Ryan Giggs.
Referee: Howard Webb.

The two incidents determined the outcome of this disappointing tie, first in the way Ryan Giggs was able to seize the lead for United and then in the way Liverpool’s chance of battling their way back into the contest was removed. Without Gerrard they lacked drive and invention from midfield, leaving Fernando Torres a forlorn, isolated figure up front.

Dalglish was heartened by the commitment of the players he had met only at 10.30 yesterday morning, and this was certainly an improvement on the sorry performance at Blackburn that proved to be Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge.

But only now does the work begin for Dalglish as he tries to rebuild the club that, in the words of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, were still on their perch when he left 20 years ago. Gerrard and Torres might be class acts but not many of these players would have secured a place alongside Rush, Beardsley and Barnes.

Even after losing to their fiercest rivals, Liverpool’s interim manager could not hide his delight at being back. ‘Brilliant,’ was how he described his feelings after what has been an extraordinary 48 hours. ‘Less than 48 hours,’ he retorted.

Fall guy: Dimitar Berbatov was awarded a penalty after the striker tumbled inside the area, despite what appeared to be minimal contact from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger 

Fall guy: Dimitar Berbatov was awarded a penalty after the striker tumbled inside the area, despite what appeared to be minimal contact from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger

He was, he said, sitting in the bar when the distress call came from John W Henry; a call that appears to have been followed by a message to the bridge to pull into the next port.

‘The cruise ship was fantastic in letting us get off at Bahrain,’ he said.

Presumably, the conversation with Henry was a brief one. Dalglish has been longing for this moment, long before he put himself forward for the job in the summer by withdrawing from the search for Rafa Benitez’s successor.

He said it was ‘a no-brainer’; the chance to address some ‘unfinished business’ with the club who remain such an integral part of his life.

Marching on: Ryan Giggs celebrates his controversial winner to dump rivals Liverpool out of the FA Cup 

Marching on: Giggs celebrates his controversial winner to dump rivals Liverpool out of the FA Cup

There was a buzz among the travelling supporters that has been absent all season and it was evident the moment Dalglish appeared from the tunnel and walked along the touchline with Ferguson. ‘He said, “welcome back”,’ revealed Dalglish. ‘And it’s amazing how quickly the memory comes back to you.’

His team talk, he explained after paying tribute to Hodgson, concerned the need for unity, and the words he chose must have been rousing ones judging by the response. Gerrard might be 30 but the overwhelming desire to impress clearly played its part in his early departure.

Even Ferguson noted the fact that he is not a player one would normally associate with two-footed lunges, although the challenge that left Michael Carrick with a sore ankle also looked like an act of retaliation after seeing Rafael da Silva escape punishment seconds earlier for a similar clash with Raul Meireles.

Bad start: Sir Alex Ferguson had the last laugh as Kenny Dalglish suffered a disastrous return to the Liverpool hot seat 

Bad start: Sir Alex Ferguson had the last laugh as Kenny Dalglish suffered a disastrous return to the Liverpool hot seat

Dalglish bemoaned Howard Webb’s decision but the referee was right. The game has changed since he was last here, especially when it comes to lunging two-footed challenges.

If Webb was right to dismiss Gerrard, he was horribly wrong when it came to awarding the penalty. The contact between Daniel Agger and Dimitar Berbatov was minimal at best; the collapse to the ground depressingly delayed by the Bulgarian.

It was symptomatic, perhaps, of an era when even referees like Webb are explaining to players that they have a right to go down should there be contact but something that remained unjust on this occasion.

Some 25 yards behind the action, Webb was in no position to see the incident clearly and the fact that his assistant did not raise a flag should have planted some doubt in his mind. But Webb pointed to the spot and Giggs did the rest.

Red midst: Liverpool are reduced to ten men after referee Howard Webb sends Steven Gerrard off after a reckless challenge on Michael Carrick 

Red midst: Liverpool are reduced to ten men after referee Howard Webb sends Steven Gerrard off after a reckless challenge on Michael Carrick

In the end, United just about deserved their fourth-round trip to Southampton. In Giggs, who made his debut for United a month after Dalglish’s shock resignation in February 1991, and Rio Ferdinand they had the two best outfield players, and they also had the better of the other chances. While Jonny Evans sent a header crashing against a post, Pepe Reina somehow made four saves in little more than four seconds to deny Rafael twice as well as Berbatov and Patrice Evra.

This, however, was far from United’s best and Dalglish will know as much. Had Gerrard remained on the field for longer than 32 minutes his side might have threatened more. In the end Fabio Aurelio went closest with a decent free-kick.

Dalglish praised Torres for his workrate, having focused on the Spaniard in his column in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. But reviving his spirit will be as important as making the changes that are sure to follow.

Another bad day at the office: Fernando Torres yet again failed to produce his best, easily dealt with by United defender Jonny Evans 

Another bad day at the office: Fernando Torres yet again failed to produce his best, easily dealt with by United defender Jonny Evans

Steve Clarke would be a sound appointment as a coach, while adding some strength to the squad would also be useful.

Yesterday Dalglish made some positive changes. No Paul Konchesky at left back. The return of Agger at centre half. Torres off after 77 minutes. All displayed the strength we have long associated with the man.

As he said, he will not know if he’s still got it until he has tried. But in the eyes of the Liverpool supporters, and probably the players too, he already looks less out of place than his predecessor.

Making a fist of it: Manchester United should have scored more but found Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in inspired form 

Making a fist of it: Manchester United should have scored more but found Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in inspired form

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