MAN UNITED 1, LIVERPOOL 0
Manchester United went a long way to restoring battered pride and bruised egos following Sunday’s derby debacle.
Mexican Javier Hernandez brought back smiles as United overcame arch rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford to move into the last 16 of the Capital One Cup.
Hernandez, making his first start of an injury hit opening to the campaign, scored the all-important goal which earned a morale-boosting victory for United who have made a patch start to the season.
It also eased the pressure on David Moyes as he sets about creating his own legacy at Old Trafford after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
And despite a patchy start, Moyes has made the best beginning by any United manager since Matt Busby in 1946.
“There have not been many good stats so far as I have concerned so I will take that one,” he joked.
United’s manager was delighted to get back to winning ways after the derby defeat.
He said: “It was a big game for us when you consider we lost at Anfield added to Sunday, we wanted to put that right. Liverpool have made a great start to the season so it was a great result.”
“It was an exciting game of football from both teams. There was not much in it. Both games between us were decided by one set piece.”
United had only three survivors from Sunday’s mauling at the hands of City – Wayne Rooney, who captained the side, David De Gea and Chris Smalling.
It was still a side packed with internationals as Moyes abandoned predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson’s policy of fielding fledglings in the League Cup such was the importance of winning this cup tie.
Moyes added it was not a risk to make so many changes saying they are were all internationals coming in and there are no reserves with all players members of the first-team squad.
Liverpool, meanwhile, welcomed back Luis Suarez following his 10-match ban as manager Brendan Rodgers fielded arguably his strongest possible line up.
It was an altogether different start for United who began the match playing at a high tempo and launching a number of early attacking raids.
And it was United who forced the first save of the match as Shinji Kagawa tested Simon Mignolet with a low shot.
Suarez had a chance midway through the half when he raced on to Jose Enrique’s excellent crossfield pass, but De Gea saved bravely at his feet.
Liverpool also had a shout for a penalty rejected after Smalling slid in to tackle Daniel Sturridge. The ball clearly struck his flaying arm, but referee Mark Clattenburg deemed it not deliberate.
Despite the intensity of play from both sides, there were precious few scoring chances as they cancelled out each other.
United made a dream start to what turned out to be a compelling second period making the all-important breakthrough after 40 seconds.
Rooney’s corner from the left was met by Hernandez who somehow managed to find the space on the six-yard line to volley low to the left of Mignolet. It was the little Mexican’s first goal of the season in his first start.
The goal sparked the match to life as Jordan Henderson shot wide when having a great chance to equalise while Nani fired over after a breakaway as United could have built a two-goal lead.
Kagawa also came within a lick of paint from adding a second goal when he made a burst from midfield before unleashing a drive which struck the top of the bar.
Liverpool then enjoyed a great spell as De Gea pulled off a fabulous save to keep out a diving header from Victor Moses while a free kick from Suarez struck the crossbar.
Rooney had two chances in quick succession from a free kick and shot, but Mignolet each time denied him with excellent stops.
Late on De Gea had to be alert to beat out a shot from Henderson as Liverpool made one desperate last attempt to equalise and force extra time, but United’s defence held firm as they ended the night vicorious.