Three for Kuyt in deserved victory for Liverpool

Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1

Liverpool's fully deserved 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Anfield may not ultimately prevent their arch-rivals surpassing the Reds' 18 league titles at the end of the season.

It has, however, dented Sir Alex Ferguson's side's hopes of a straightforward run-in and at the same time restored some pride for the Reds after two defeats at Old Trafford already this campaign.

Dirk Kuyt grabbed the headlines with a first Liverpool hat-trick against United since Peter Beardsley's in September 1990, before Javier Hernandez headed an injury-time consolation - but there were many more who deserved the plaudits.

Tireless livewire Luis Suarez had a hand in all three goals while Lucas Leiva and Raul Meireles produced impressive midfield performances.

The afternoon was capped off with a long-awaited debut for £35million record signing Andy Carroll after more than two months on the sidelines with a thigh injury.

For United their second-choice central defensive partnership of Wes Brown and Chris Smalling, deputising for the suspended Nemanja Vidic and injured Rio Ferdinand, never looked comfortable on an afternoon when very few of visiting team reached anywhere near the exacting standards Ferguson demands.

They still remain top of the table, and it is difficult to bet against them being in that position come May, but two defeats in five days - having lost at Chelsea in midweek - leave plenty of questions to be answered.

While Carroll had claimed all the adulation prior to kick-off, when the action got going it was his fellow January arrival Suarez who had an effect where it mattered most.

The Uruguay international, a £22.7million transfer from Ajax, had one early effort prodded at Edwin van der Sar but that was merely a precursor to a piece of brilliance to set up the opener.

When he collected the ball on the left of the penalty area his route to goal was blocked by a number of opponents but his quick feet saw him weave past Rafael, Michael Carrick and Wes Brown on his way to the byline.

From there he squared the ball through Van der Sar's legs to present Kuyt with a tap-in from just inches.

Suarez could claim to have had a hand in the next one too - but the main credit had to go to Nani, who had a defensive aberration.

The Portugal international inexplicably headed the Uruguayan's cross back into his own six-yard area where Kuyt gleefully nodded in.

Liverpool's lead was fully deserved but it had been United who had come closest to scoring prior to Kuyt's 34th-minute strike.

Dimitar Berbatov, scorer of a match-winning hat-trick in their Old Trafford league encounter, volleyed Wayne Rooney's knockdown against the outside of Jose Reina's right-hand post.

The rivalry between the teams, England's dominant pairing over the last four decades, was evident in the closing stages of the first half.

Jamie Carragher, switched to right-back after Fabio Aurelio went off injured, was lucky to escape with just a booking after a reckless shin-high tackle on Nani.

However, the Portuguese, already at fault for the second goal, disgraced himself by collapsing to the floor and bursting into tears when Steven Gerrard placed a hand on his shoulder.

After the ensuing melee Nani departed on a stretcher, replaced by Javier Hernandez, and Van der Sar was cautioned.

Rafael also benefited from referee Phil Dowd's leniency after a high challenge on Lucas Leiva earned him, and Martin Skrtel for his retaliation, a booking.

The second half began with United, not unexpectedly, having their best spell and for 20 minutes it appeared a goal was imminent.

Ryan Giggs, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 606 league appearances, met Rooney's cross with a first-time shot which whistled just over the crossbar to serve as a warning that the game was far from finished.

Meireles had to clear off the line for the second time in the match to prevent Berbatov's close-range header going in while Giggs curled an 18-yard free-kick over.

More gaps were appearing in the visitors' defence, though, and when Kuyt put Meireles clean through Van der Sar came to the rescue by palming his angled shot away.

The Dutchman was at fault in the 65th minute, however, when he spilled Suarez's free-kick and his compatriot knocked in the rebound.

Carroll's long-awaited debut arrived in the 74th minute when he replaced Meireles to a rapturous reception and his first touch was a goalbound header.

Kuyt's supreme confidence saw him attempt a 25-yard volley which screamed wide while Gerrard twice hit low shots either side of each post.

Hernandez scored a late headed consolation from Giggs' cross in added time but it hardly raised a cheer among the visiting fans.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics rally to defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
News
John Cleese is promoting his new book
people
News
A-list actresses such as Deepika Padukone get paid a tenth of what their male counterparts make per film
news
News
The Black Friday Vines that will destroy your faith in humanity
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
TV
News
Robbie Rogers: US former Leeds United footballer, 25, announced he was gay in February 2013, shortly after he left Elland Road. Rogers 'retired' after writing on his blog: 'I'm a soccer player, I'm Christian, and I'm gay.' Has since signed with Los Angeles Galaxy.
peopleUS footballer said he had hoped Michael Sam and Jason Collins coming out might have helped
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game