Liverpool knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup on Saturday, downing its eternal rivals by a score of 2-1. Although a few players delivered top-notch performances, the LFC supporters at Anfield easily won “man of the match” honors.
As with any game between LFC and United, Saturday’s meeting was filled with subplots. But none was bigger than Patrice Evra‘s first visit to Anfield since the racial abuse storm between Luis Suarez and him hit. The LFC star was serving the seventh of an eight-game ban, and Evra was always going to receive a hostile reception.
But something happened at Anfield on Saturday. As expected, Liverpool fans gave it to the United captain, but it did not go over the top. He was not pelted with objects thrown from the stands, nor did any idiots run onto the field to do him harm.There was one incident involving one fan, who allegedly racially abused Evra. An arrest was made and it is now a police matter.
Those expecting to see some nasty scenes involving the crowd and Evra were terribly disappointed. And LFC fans deserve the same applause — both in intensity and duration — that their heroes on the field received after the victory.
The Reds in the stands booed Evra every time he touched the ball. That is commonplace both in soccer and in other sports. There were chants calling him a liar. And the new hit song, “we only hate mancs, we’re not racists, we only hate mancs” was sung on heavy rotation.
Both sets of supporters were going at each other, in a game of call and response. And the action in the stands was as competitive as its on-field counterpart.
Saturday’s game was never going to be all about Evra and Suarez. No matter how much some parties may have wanted it to be. It was about a meeting between English soccer’s biggest rivals. Two clubs with storied histories took the field and added another chapter to their epic struggle.
Manchester United versus Liverpool is bigger than one or two players. It’s bigger than the news of the moment. Kudos go out to the crowd at Anfield for reminding us of this fact.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.tv