LIVERPOOL 1, MAN UNITED 2.
It was an afternoon to set aside differences and forget the often bitter and tribal rivalry, which often borders on hatred, which exists between a faction of Manchester United and Liverpool fans.
Most behaved impeccably as football remembered the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy on an emotional day at Anfield as Liverpool tackled their Mancunian rivals.
This was Liverpool’s first home match following the publication of the report that exonerated any blame from their fans for the disaster 23 years ago which claimed so many innocent lives.
And it was an afternoon to mark justice for the victims and their families who had striven tirelessly to prove that Liverpool fans were not to blame.
There was a giant mosaic which was created pre-match around three sides of the ground displaying ‘The Truth’ while 96 balloons were released shortly before kick off to remember those who had lost their lives.
Sir Bobby Charlton handed a wreath on the pitch to Liverpool legend Ian Rush with the floral tribute to be placed at the memorial to the Hillsborough victims which is by the Shankly Gates at Anfield.
In-between there was the little matter of a football match which seemed largely an irrelevance bearing in mind the horrific event which unfolded at Hillsborough.
United recorded their first win at Anfield to climb to second place in the table while Liverpool languish third bottom after their worst start to a campaign for more than half a century.
United had Anders Lindegaard preferred in goal to David De Gea while Nemanja Vidic was ruled out through injury as Rio Ferdinand found himself at centre back alongside Jonny Evans.
Ryan Giggs shot narrowly wide for United, but it was Liverpool who created most of the early running.
Steven Gerrard was a human dynamo as he had two decent strikes at goal in an opening period in which Liverpool were reduced to 10 men following Jonjo Shelvey’s sending off for an alleged two-footed tackle challenging Jonny Evans.
There were claims by Liverpool that Evans, too, made the tackle with his feet raised, though referee Mark Halsey took no action against the Reds’ defender.
And Liverpool’s 10 men made the breakthrough straight from the restart when Glenn Johnson’s perseverance set up Steven Gerrard who calmly chested the ball down before rifling a left-foot volley low past Lindegaard.
Gerrard then poignantly looked to the sky to remember his 10-year-old cousin who was one of those who died at Hillsborough.
United’s response was immediate and from an unlikely source, Brazilian right back Rafael da Silva who curiously views himself more of an attacker than defender.
He received a lay off from Shinji Kagawa and then from the right of the box curled in a delightful shot high to the right of keeper Pepe Reina. It was his second goal of the season.
Liverpool were incensed they were not awarded a penalty on two occasions when Luis Suarez went down theatrically following a challenge from Jonny Evans while Raheem Sterling tumbled after a tangle with half-time substitute Paul Scholes.
Suarez and Suso were both denied by Lindegaard before United won a penalty with nine minutes left when Antonio Valencia was brought down by Glenn Johnson.
There was a four-and-a-half minute wait for the penalty as Daniel Agger was carried from the field on a stretcher before Robin van Persie scored from the spot.
It was a massive relief for United who had missed their three previous penalties of the campaign, including one by RVP.
Martin Kelly headed narrowly wide for Liverpool late on as United held on for a big win in the scheme of the Barclays Premier League title race.