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.''