LIVERPOOL VERDICT: It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the result, not least for Benitez himself. It was a first clean sheet of the season against high-calibre opposition and a first victory against a side likely to finish in the top eight. Significantly, the spine of the side had a solidity again. The improvement in midfield, where Lucas surely had his best game of the season, was vital while Benayoun confirmed he has graduated from fringe player to first choice. Ferguson admitted afterwards that Liverpool were a "wounded animal". It is often when they are at their most dangerous.
MANCHESTER UNITED VERDICT: Even Ferguson admitted: "Liverpool were the better team." That reflected upon a substandard United display. Even without Fletcher, Ferguson may have been better off reverting to the 4-5-1 formation he has used successfully against Arsenal, Besiktas and CSKA Moscow or selecting the more energetic Anderson instead of Scholes. Jonny Evans' case to displace either Ferdinand or Vidic was enhanced by the failings of the preferred pairing.