It’s the biggest rivalry in English football and arguably the biggest rivalry in global sport. Forget the Yankees-Red Sox — that’s small potatoes compared to a rivalry that dates back to 1894 and will be followed globally with such intense passion and partisanship that it literally divides families. Believe it: People from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires will be donning their strips and following the two most successful teams in English football, with a combined 116 trophies between them, a neat 58 apiece. Jamie Trecker looks at some of the biggest games in the Northwest derby in recent memory.
Dec 17, 2000 at Old Trafford Liverpool wins 1-0
Not significant in Premier League terms, but this was a big one for Reds’ fans: Danny Murphy's goal (pictured) ended a five-year run in which Liverpool had failed to get a result in the league against their rival. United were runaway winners that season, with a ten-point gap on Arsenal.
Jan 4, 1994 at Anfield, 3-3 draw
Memorable because Liverpool were in a deep funk and manager Graeme Souness was facing the ax. United went out to 3-0 lead thanks to Ryan Giggs, Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin but then the Reds came all the way back behind two from Nigel Clough and one from Neil “Razor” Ruddock (pictured). The result saved Souness’ job but he would be sacked the following month. Some argue that since that time, the Reds have never been quite the same.
March 21, 2010 at Old Trafford, Manchester wins 2-1
This was the controversial game last season that ended Liverpool’s hopes of top-four finish, ending their European Cup dreams. Fernando Torres scored inside 5 minutes, but then United’s Antonio Valencia won a penalty controversially seven minutes later, with an incensed Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez swearing he had dived. Keeper Pepe Reina saved Wayne Rooney's penalty attempt (pictured), but Rooney scored on the rebound to even it up. Squad man Park Ji-Sung got the winner, and ultimately, Benitez got the boot.
Oct 18, 1992 at Old Trafford, 2-2 draw
Liverpool icon Ian Rush (pictured, center) scores in the first Premier League match between the rivals that season to take him past Roger Hunt's club record (No. 287 for Rush at that time. Rush would finish with 346 goals, a record that still stands). Mark Hughes, now Fulham’s manager, scored twice for United to get the draw.
Sep 16, 1990 at Anfield, Liverpool wins 4-0
A hammering, and notable for the fact that Liverpool great Ian Rush was kept off the scoresheet. Rush went twenty games without a goal against United, his bogey team, and this one was particularly painful. Who did score? John Barnes and hat-trick hero Peter Beardsley (pictured), best remembered in these parts as a member of the NASL Vancouver Whitecaps. Beardsley, of course, was a former United man, who only made one appearance under manager Ron Atkinson. Also on the field? New England Revs coach Steve Nicol.
April 4, 1988 at Anfield, 3-3 draw
This was a pivotal moment for United, a team that looked in danger of relegation just 18 months prior, but was now fighting for the title. Eleven points out of first, United needed a win to have any hope of catching the eventual league champs. But United went down 3-1 down after a dismal ten-minute spell bracketing the halves with Peter Beardsley, Steve McMahon and Gary Gillespie doing the honors. But United fought back for the draw behind two Bryan Robson goals (pictured) and the equalizer from Gordon Strachan with 12 left on the clock. The Scot then incensed the home crowd by pretending to smoke a cigar during his goal celebration.
Aug 17, 1977 at Wembley, Charity Shield, 0-0 (title shared)
The Charity Shield (today the Community Shield) is the unofficial curtain-raiser on the English season, contested between the winners of the FA Cup and the League. This match was memorable as it was the debut of Scottish great Kenny Dalglish (pictured, right) for Liverpool, which paid a then-record £440,000 transfer fee to Glasgow Celtic. This match also was one of the first truly modern games in the sense that the storyline was all-Dalglish, all the time, arguably the first time when a player was paid attention to more than a team. There were some other greats on the field that day: Lou Macari, Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill for United; and Jimmy Case, Phil Neal and Terry McDermott for the Reds. After the match, Dalglish’s thick Glaswegian accent led one wag to crack that his press conference “required subtitles.”
October 1, 1995 at Old Trafford, 2-2 draw
This was a classic: United’s Eric Cantona made his return from an eight-month suspension after his infamous karate leap into the crowd at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park. Cantona would set up the first goal, finding Nicky Butt after only two minutes, then watch as Robbie Fowler scored twice to give the Reds the lead. King Cantona leveled the score with twenty to play from the spot, then celebrated by using the goal stanchion as a stripper pole.
April 5, 2003 at Old Trafford, Manchester wins 4-0
After their humbling defeat at the 2003 League Cup final, Sir Alex’s men got instant revenge with a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of the Reds. Liverpool saw Sami Hyppia sent off in the 4th minute to give Ruud van Nistelrooy his first penalty of two on the day, while Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer (pictured) would add the goals from open play, all orchestrated by Paul Scholes. It was the biggest United win over Liverpool in 50 years, and while many fans blamed ref Mike Riley for “ruining” the contest, the truth is that United were rampant on the day.
March 2, 2003 at Cardiff, League Cup Final won by Liverpool 2-0
A classic match-up that saw a supposedly out-gunned Liverpool side take down one of the greatest Manchester United lineups ever. Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen (pictured) scored the goals against a United team that fielded David Beckham, Roy Keane, Juan Sebastien Veron, Ryan Giggs, Fabien Barthez, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy, to name but a few. The Reds’ manager? New Villa man Gerard Houllier, who said simply after the match, to chants of You’ll Never Walk Alone, “That was special.”