Manchester United regained top spot in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday in a stormy clash marred by fresh controversy stemming from the Luis Suarez racism affair
LONDON: Two second-half goals in three minutes from United talisman Wayne Rooney — playing in his 500th game at senior level — saw the champions go one point clear of Manchester City, who face Aston Villa on Sunday.
But the early kick-off at Old Trafford was dominated by incidents involving Suarez, who scored Liverpool’s only goal in his first start since returning from an eight-match ban for racially abusing United captain Patrice Evra.
Despite assurances from both clubs’ managers during the week that Evra and Suarez would shake hands before the kick-off, the Uruguayan caused an unnecessary flashpoint by ignoring Evra’s outstretched hand.
Evra angrily grabbed Suarez’s arm as the South American walked away, before United defender Rio Ferdinand then snubbed Suarez’s offer of a handshake.
Players from both sides had to be separated in the tunnel at half-time by police and stewards as Patrice Evra confronted Suarez, starting a game for the first time since serving an eight-match FA suspension handed out for making racist comments to the United defender.
There were also ugly scenes on the final whistle as Evra celebrated with United supporters and infuriated Liverpool players with his gestures.
Again, stewards, police and match officials were involved in keeping rival players apart.
Disgusted United manager Sir Alex Ferguson branded Suarez a “disgrace” afterwards and said the striker should never play for Liverpool again.
“I couldn’t believe it. I just could not believe it,” Ferguson said when asked for his reaction. “I had a chat with Patrice this morning and he said he was going to shake his hand. He said ‘I have nothing to be ashamed of.’
“(Suarez) is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. He shouldn’t be allowed to play for Liverpool again.
“The history that club’s got, he could have caused a riot. It was terrible what he did. It was a terrible start to the game and it created a terrible atmosphere.”
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish later insisted he had not seen the incident, but lost his cool with a television interviewer at the suggestion it had led to a bust-up between players from both sides at half-time.