Liverpool began Kenny Dalglish?s second stint in charge of the club with defeat as a Ryan Giggs?s second-minute penalty earned Manchester United a 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory at Old Trafford on Sunday.
On a miserable day for Dalglish, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was sent off in the 32nd minute for a challenge on England teammate Michael Carrick.
Liverpool had hoped Dalglish?s return would revive its season following a string of poor results which resulted in Roy Hodgson sacking on Saturday morning after just six months in charge.
Dalglish received a hero?s reception from the 9,000 traveling Liverpool fans, but little went right for his team once the game started with Giggs converting a penalty after Daniel Agger was adjudged to have fouled United striker Dimitar Berbatov after just 29 seconds.
Berbatov went down easily, but Howard Webb pointed toward the spot despite furious protests from the Liverpool players, and Giggs calmly slotted past Pepe Reina into the right side of the net.
Gerrard sees red
The visitors chances then seemed to evaporate after Gerrard made a two-footed lunge on Carrick and was shown a straight red card.
?The two decisions were the important factors in this game,? Dalglish said. ?I don?t think it was a penalty kick. It wasn?t a penalty kick. We?ve lost a game of football, but we have to look at the circumstances of that.?
Still, there were reasons for Dalglish, who led the team to three league titles and two FA Cup trophies during his first spell in charge, to be cautiously optimistic.
Despite being a man down, Liverpool put up a spirited challenge but rarely threatened an equalizer. Fabio Aurelio came closest with a curling 25-yard free kick that Tomasz Kuszczak had to stretch to keep out with both hands in the 65th.
?Other than the result I?m happy because I couldn?t have asked anything more in terms of effort and commitment,? Dalglish said.
United manager Alex Ferguson had no complaints when it came to Gerrard?s red card.
?It was two-footed and he (Gerrard) was off the ground. It was a reckless challenge,? Ferguson said. ?He?s not that type of player, but he didn?t leave the referee with an option.?
Before Gerrard?s sending off, Liverpool had dominated possession for long periods without managing to create any dangerous chances. Maxi Rodriguez forced Tomasaz Kuszczak into his first serious save in the 19th minute before Gerrard also brought a stop from United?s Polish keeper in the 30th.
United had several chances to increase the lead but Reina tipped Patrice Evra?s 69th-minute effort over the bar after the hosts had been denied what looked like a genuine penalty when Giggs was tripped by substitute Jonjo Shelvey.
Keywords: FA Cup