Liverpool stun Man United

Torres, Ngog help Mercysiders close in on leaders Chelsea

 Liverpool's Fernando Torres celebrates after scoring the first goal during their match against Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday. Reuters

Fernando Torres held off Rio Ferdinand to lash Liverpool in front after 65 minutes and David Ngog added a second goal in stoppage time to spark celebrations at Anfield after four consecutive defeats.

The deserved victory revived the home team's hopes of a title challenge, taking them to 18 points from 10 games, four behind United and six behind leaders Chelsea who went top on Saturday courtesy of a 5-0 thrashing of Blackburn Rovers.
The mood at Anfield was lightened further with the news that city rivals Everton had lost 3-2 at Bolton Wanderers in one of the day's other fixtures that included Manchester City against Fulham and Arsenal at West Ham United.

A typically rumbustious match ended with only 20 players on the pitch after United's Serbian central defender Nemanja Vidic and Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano were shown red cards in the frenetic closing stages.

Vidic, who was dismissed for hauling down Dirk Kuyt on the halfway line, was also sent off in both United's league defeats by Liverpool last season.

"It was a massive win for us," Torres told Sky Sports. "We needed to win to stay in the title race," added the Spain striker who played with a painkilling injection in a groin injury and was substituted after his goal.

Tactical battle

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez came under mounting criticism after league defeats by Chelsea and Sunderland were sandwiched in between Champions League defeats by Fiorentina and Olympique Lyon but he won the tactical battle against old adversary Alex Ferguson.

United fans predictably released several beach balls before kickoff, a reminder of the freak goal that beat Liverpool at Sunderland last week, but they had little else to laugh about as their side were outplayed.

Liverpool dominated the first half with Fabio Aurelio's free kick being clawed away by Edwin van der Sar who also saved well from Kuyt.

Dutch workhorse Kuyt should have put Liverpool in front but wasted another good chance.

Wayne Rooney's header which brought a save from Pepe Reina was all United had to show for their first half efforts.

Liverpool continued to play the better football after the break and made the breakthrough midway through the half.

Yossi Benayoun played a perfect pass to Torres who outmuscled Ferdinand before sending a shot past Van der Sar in to the roof of the net.  Michael Owen was booed on his return to Anfield when he came on as a United substitute for the disappointing Dimitar Berbatov.

Owen was then hauled down by Jamie Carragher, with the Liverpool defender lucky to stay on, before Vidic got his marching orders.

Mascherano was shown a second yellow card for a wild lunge on Van der Sar before Ngog ended United's hopes of salvaging a point when he kept his nerve to slot the ball past Van der Sar.

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