UNITED 0, LIVERPOOL 1 (N'Gog 65)
United: Higgs, Crowe, Michalik, Kisnorbo, Hughes (Kilkenny 79), Snodgrass, Doyle (Showunmi 89), Howson, Johnson, Beckford, Becchio (Grella 81). Subs: Ankergren, Naylor, Prutton, Robinson.
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Riera, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Babel (Skrtel 90), Mascherano, Carragher, N'Gog (Gerrard 78), Spearing, Degen (Johnson 72), Dossena. Subs: Voronin, Reina, Plessis, Torres.
Referee: A Wiley
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After a tremendous start to the League One season, the table-toppers put the promotion campaign on the back-burner for one night only as Elland Road was packed to the rafters for the visit of Liverpool.
Reds boss Rafael Benitez had paid United the ultimate compliment of including star men Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres on the bench, while Simon Grayson had made just one enforced change, Lubo Michalik replacing Leigh Bromby.
And it was United who started brightly, Deigo Cavalieri being called upon to collect an early cross from Robert Snodgrass.
Snodgrass also delivered an excellent cross in the 11th minute, following good work by Jason Crowe, which resulted in an unmarked Micky Doyle heading wide of the target with the first real chance of the game.
And United soon had the ball in the net, following a Snodgrass corner, but the effort was ruled out for offside. Michalik got a firm header on the corner, Jermaine Beckford latched on with a goalbound shot, but as the ball was crossing the line, Luciano Becchio got a final touch which was deemed the offside moment.
Undeterred, United pressed, and the South American sent another shot wide as Leeds continued to take the game to Premier League side.
Shane Higgs was called upon to make his first real save on the half-hour when Ryan Babel ran almost 70 yards after a Leeds attack broke down, but his angled shot was dealt with comfortably by the United keeper.
But it was another Snodgrass cross, following a great touch by Beckford, that caused problems when some desperate defending denied a waiting Becchio.
The Premier League side finished the first half the stronger, though, and Higgs was called upon to make another terrific save, denying Albert Riera with a close range header.
United started the second half on the front foot and after Becchio shot wide, Beckford was denied by some good defending following a Crowe pull-back.
Beckford was also denied by Cavalieri when he latched on to a long ball forward. The Liverpool goalkeeper got a decisive block in with his legs.
There was a short stoppage around the hour when Javier Mascherano appeared to catch Beckford with an elbow, but no punishment was meted out.
The striker was in the thick of the action again when he hit a shot narrowly wide on the turn, but moments later it was Liverpool who were celebrating.
Paddy Kisnorbo made a great challenge to force a corner, but from the resultant set-piece Mascherano seized on Becchio's headed clearance, and David N'Gog latched on to his pass to tuck the ball beyond Higgs to give Liverpool the lead.
United recovered from the set-back to threaten again on 76 minutes when Bradley Johnson tried his luck from distance to force a save from Cavalieri.
As the game edged towards the final 10 minutes, Benitez introduced England internationals Gerrard and Glen Johnson, and Grayson handed a Neil Kilkenny the chance to shine.
Kilkenny was involved at the start of a move that saw fellow substitute Mike Grella trouble Cavalieri, while at the other end, Liverpool had a free-kick deflected to safety. Babel also fired over the top for the visitors.
But that was it in terms of chances and, despite four minutes of added time, Liverpool held on for victory. But Grayson and his players had done themselves proud and received a standing ovation.