How and Why: A 3-3 draw at Anfield was a showcase for English football at its best

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The Independent Online
Intro:

It may beggar belief on occasions that Premiership matches command large television audiences on the Continent but on Tuesday Liverpool and Manchester United endorsed the opinion that English League football at its best provides an excitement the rest of Europe envies. The six goals scored at Anfield, all of them spectacular, were the embellishments to a game sprinkled with moments of high skill and played at an unrelentingly quick pace. 'At 3-0 down Liverpool went kamikaze,' United's manager Alex Ferguson said afterwards. 'They charged in for every tackle, ran a yard faster and a yard harder every time. The crowd had them at fever pitch. As a game it will take some beating.'

0-1 (Scorer: Bruce)

The essence of the first goal was Eric Cantona's patience. Most players, fearing an opportunity might be lost, prefer to cross as soon as possible but the Frenchman's confidence that he would not be dispossessed allowed him to wait until Steve Bruce got into position. The delay allowed the United captain to slip between Barnes and Dicks to head down in textbook fashion.

0-2 (Scorer: Giggs)

A goal with an incompetent prelude and near-perfect execution. Jamie Redknapp passed back injudiciously, committing Mark Wright into a slide tackle that was not strong enough to prevent Ryan Giggs gaining possession. The United player did not look up but had the awareness, accuracy and audacity to chip over Liverpool's goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar.

0-3 (Scorer: Irwin)

The problems facing United's opponents is that any one of Giggs, Cantona or Denis Irwin can score from long range with free-kicks. On this occasion the intent was scantily disguised as not a single United player went in the area to provide an alternative to the shot but Irwin's strike - right foot into the top left-hand corner - was so accurate that Grobbelaar did not even attempt a save. Players spend hours on the practice ground for goals like this.

1-3 (Scorer: Clough)

Clough has been an enigma at Anfield: sometimes exceptional, too often anonymous. His goal record, however, is outstanding for a deep-lying striker who lacks pace, partly because of the accuracy allied to the power of his shooting. Almost anywhere else in the goal and Peter Schmeichel would have been in a position to save but the low trajectory into the corner defeated the United goalkeeper.

2-3 (Scorer: Clough)

Mark Wright's move upfield unsettled United's defence which had to mark an extra player. A midfield player (Ince) was drawn towards Wright, Bruce tackled Rush but a rebound off Keane compounded the confusion in the visiting back four and Clough was able to profit from the space. Again the shot had the virtue of pace and precision.

3-3 (Scorer: Ruddock)

Ruddock got the goal with a towering header from eight yards but the Liverpool central defender had also played an integral role in the build-up as it was his flick to Stig Bjornebye on the left wing that had United's defence changing balance and direction. Even so, Ruddock's subsequent spin and run into the penalty box would have been wasted without an excellent cross from Bjornebye who had just come on to the pitch as a substitute.

(Graphic omitted)

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