Hernandez salvages draw for United vs. Liverpool

Substitute Javier Hernandez rescued a point for Manchester

United with a late equalizer as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw

in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.

Steven Gerrard looked to have earned his side all three points

after scoring with a 68th-minute free kick in his first start for

seven months.

But United, which started the game with leading scorer Wayne

Rooney on the bench, continued its unbeaten start to the season

thanks to Mexico international Hernandez, who headed home an

81st-minute goal.

The capacity 45,065 crowd at Anfield included two-time NBA MVP

LeBron James, who watched Liverpool play live for the first time

since becoming a minority owner of the club.

United improved to 20 points from eight games while Liverpool is

fifth with 14 points.

”It’s a real indication when you get in the dressing room

afterwards and the players are all disappointed that they have

drawn 1-1 with Manchester United,” Liverpool manager Kenny

Dalglish said. ”That tells you how far they have come and we’re

delighted they’re disappointed.”

James, who made a $10,000 donation to the Liverpool’s foundation

charity, did well not to nod off in a first half when chances were

sparse as United manager Alex Ferguson left Rooney out with the

England striker ”devastated” over a three-match Euro 2012 ban for

kicking out at a Macedonia opponent in a 2-2 draw earlier this

week.

United still had the first scoring opportunity in the 16th when

Phil Jones, playing in a more advanced midfield role, headed

Patrice Evra’s cross wide.

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was Liverpool’s best threat

throughout and had a clear chance in front of goalkeeper David de

Gea shortly after Charlie Adam’s long-range effort in the 34th. But

the Spanish ‘keeper saved the shot from inside the area.

De Gea could do little as Gerrard – making his first start in

seven months – curled a free kick through a poor defensive wall

after United defender Rio Ferdinand had tripped up Charlie Adam on

the edge of the area.

”The free-kick wasn’t the best, the intention was to get it

over the wall, but a couple of years ago at Old Trafford the same

thing happened, the wall split,” Gerrard said. ”Maybe it’s just

the bit of luck I was looking for in my first game back.”

Rooney and Nani’s late entrances spurred on the visitors,

however, and Hernandez powerfully guided home the equalizer.

Ferguson questioned the decision to award the free kick for goal

but also blamed poor defending by veteran Ryan Giggs for the

ensuing goal.

”The referee is under a lot of pressure and I’m not surprised

they got the free-kick,” Ferguson said. ”I didn’t think they were

really threatening until they scored the goal but then the game

opened up and we took the chance. In the context of today the

result is fair.”