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Rafa's Reds demolish United

LIVERPOOL breathed new life into the English Premier League title race with a stunning 4-1 win against 10-man Manchester United yesterday.

Rafa Benitez's side came from behind in an explosive clash at Old Trafford to move within four points of leader United, which still has a game in hand on its bitter rival.

Cristiano Ronaldo's first half penalty gave United the lead, but Fernando Torres equalized and Steven Gerrard scored from the spot to put Liverpool in front before half-time.

In the 77th minute, Nemanja Vidic was sent off for hauling down Gerrard and Fabio Aurelio scored from the resulting free-kick.

Andrea Dossena completed a memorable day for the Reds when he lobbed in the fourth in the 90th, handing United its biggest home defeat since Queen's Park Rangers ran riot at Old Trafford on New Year's Day 1992.

A rush of blood from Liverpool keeper Jose Reina had gifted United the lead in the 23rd. Carlos Tevez clipped a pass towards Park Ji-sung, who was going away from goal, and Reina rashly charged off his line to send the South Korea winger crashing to the turf.

Ronaldo made Reina pay for his misjudgement as the Portugal winger stepped up to lash home the penalty.

But United's lead was short-lived. In the 28th, Vidic allowed a long punt forward to bounce over his head and Torres nipped in to rob the United defender and stroke a cool finish past Edwin van der Sar.

Just before half-time Torres sent Gerrard surging away from Patrice Evra into the penalty area. Evra could only hack Gerrard down and the Liverpool captain picked himself up to slot in the spot-kick.

Vidic's nightmare day was complete in the 77th when he lost possession to Gerrard and hauled down the midfielder, earning a straight red card from referee Alan Wiley.

Aurelio rubbed salt into Vidic's wounds as he curled the free-kick past van der Sar.

Then Dossena ran clear to chip in the fourth, condemning the hosts to their first league defeat at Old Trafford since February 2008 and sealing Liverpool's first double over United for seven years.

Chelsea, seven points behind United, can keep alive its title hopes with a win at home to Manchester City today.

Earlier, Benitez insisted he had no regrets over his attack on his United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Rafa's rant", as it has become known, was unleashed in January with the Spaniard accusing Ferguson of exerting undue influence in the English game, as well as hypocrisy and serial whingeing.

The uncharacteristic outburst was seen as a turning point in the season as it was followed by a slide in Liverpool's domestic form.

But Benitez insisted that he had no regrets about saying something he feels needed to be said. "It was the right time to say what I said. They were facts, it was the right moment. I do not regret saying anything, and it did not have any effect on results."


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