Steven Gerrard has apologised for his extraordinary red card against Manchester United, 38 seconds after he came on for Liverpool at the start of the second half of their 2-1 home defeat to Louis Van Gaal’s side.
The United manager described the victory as one of the biggest wins of his illustrious career, and it puts United in pole position to claim the fourth Champions League place ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham, who they have beaten in their last two games. But it was overshadowed by the remarkable incident involving Gerrard.
The Liverpool captain was a second half substitute for Adam Lallana and was almost immediately dismissed for stamping on the leg of Ander Herrera. He gave an interview to Sky Sports in the aftermath of the game in which he apologised for his actions and took responsibility for the defeat. He said: “I’ve got to accept it. I’ve let my team-mates, manager and more importantly the supporters down and I take full responsibility for that.
“I think I’ve tried to avoid his tackle and I’ve reacted when I’ve seen his studs showing. But I’ve been in the game long enough to know when you do that with 45 minutes to play and a great opportunity to get back into the game, I take full responsibility.
“I’ve reacted to the initial tackle, but I don’t want to say too much more. I wanted to apologise to the supporters and I take full responsibility for the result.”
The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was reluctant to criticise his player, instead saying that the 34-year-old might have been reacting to Liverpool’s poor first half showing. Gerrard was barracked by United’s away fans while he warmed up during the first half.
Rodgers said that he was pleased Gerrard had been “man enough to apologise”. He added: “He was purely wanting to make an impact. He has made his apologies. Of course in a big game you suffer when you play with ten men against 11. It is great respect to the players still on there that we kept on fighting, especially when it went to 2-0. The players showed immense responsibility and spirit.”
Two goals from Juan Mata won the game for United although Liverpool ran them close with a second half goal from Daniel Sturridge. Wayne Rooney had a penalty saved by Simon Mignolet in time added on at the end of the game. Martin Skrtel could yet face Football Association disciplinary action for a late challenge with David De Gea in which he appeared to stamp on the goalkeeper.
Rodgers said: “The ball has been played through and it looks like it when it is slowed down, he has caught him with intent. I didn’t see it like that. He is trying to get the ball. You see his foot up, that is a symbol when a player is just trying to get his toe on the ball because if he does that and the keeper brings him down, it is probably a penalty.”
Van Gaal said: “It is the moment we are coming back and we beat Liverpool again. We beat them again with their own weapons and the pressure on the ball. Now the gap is five points ahead of Liverpool and six ahead of Tottenham and Southampton so the moment to win is one of the most important in my career.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies