x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Liverpool's Benitez furious at penalty decision

Manchester United beat their rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford to go back to the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United's Ji-Sung Park celebrates in front of his home fans after scoring the winner in a 2-1 Premier League victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford yesterday.
Manchester United's Ji-Sung Park celebrates in front of his home fans after scoring the winner in a 2-1 Premier League victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford yesterday.

MANCHESTER // Rafa Benitez renewed his attack on Sir Alex Ferguson and accused Antonio Valencia of diving to win a penalty in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford yesterday. The result, secured by goals from Wayne Rooney and Ji-Sung Park, restored Manchester United to the top of the Premier League. Liverpool led through Fernando Torres but United's equaliser was a contentious affair.

Rooney converted the rebound after Pepe Reina had saved his spot kick, awarded for a tug by Javier Mascherano on Valencia. But Benitez argued the offence took place outside the area, though the Ecuadorian tumbled within it. He said: "Watching the replay, I have a lot of doubts. It is not clear. It is clear that there is contact but the way he fell down...strange. I saw three replays and the last one was very suspicious."

The two managers were involved in a row on the Old Trafford touchline and Ferguson, who argued it was a penalty, said the Argentine international should have been dismissed: "He didn't bring him down outside the box, it wasn't until he was inside the box, he was brought down. "I just thought it was a definite red card, I must say. There was no way [Jamie] Carragher would get across and stop Valencia from shooting; absolutely no way. He's too quick for Carragher to get across."

Ferguson had spent his Friday press conference suggesting Liverpool have got the benefit of decisions from officials. Benitez responded: "He has his opinion about everything. We know the influence of Sir Alex in everything, but the referee [Howard Webb] is a very good referee." The defeat, Liverpool's 16th of the season in all competitions, leaves his side in sixth place and outsiders to claim fourth, but Benitez added: "As a manager, you have to believe. We have to keep going. It depends on the other teams, if they lose some games. They have some difficult games."

Ferguson praised his side for recovering after going behind in the fifth minute. "To come back and win is a great quality Manchester United have," he said. "It's that quality that won us the game." He praised Park for the South Korean midfielder's match-winning contribution. "We can give him roles to play because of his intelligence and discipline," he added. "Today we found him another role, slightly different from the Milan game but nevertheless really important.

"He's such a great little lad that his courage got him the goal." sports@thenational.ae