So, how was the reunion, Michael?

2009-10-27 00:00

LET’S give credit where it’s due. Liverpool dug deep on Sunday and got a win over their friends from down the road. And while they were at it, their fans also gave Michael Owen the sort of reception befitting a bomb terrorist.

But, these things happen. Owen must have expected it, and from the mild “Where were you in Instanbul?” to a slightly more venomous “Judas” chant, the former Kop hero was left in no doubt as to what Merseyside thought of his career decision.

Had Jamie Carragher not prematurely hugged him towards the latter stages, Owen may have had his revenge. But, in the end, the win went to a team that craved it more, a midfield that had bite to back up its incessant bark. And of course, a certain Spaniard returned upfront.

You can say whatever you want, but few strikers would have brushed a “world-­class defender” aside quite as effortlessly as Fernando Torres did to Rio Ferdinand.

“El Nino” was once regarded as a soft touch. These days, though, he gives as good as he gets. His mixture of pace, power and deadly precision were on full display in his goal.

United fans — and England ones, too — will be really worried about Rio’s charitable ways. In-between a series of injuries and his off-field activities, England’s coolest customer seems to have forgotten how to do his day job. His pace, which once allowed him to live with Thierry Henry at his peak, seems to be fading. Strikers will run at him, and the likes of Nemanja Vidic and John Terry are no Usain Bolts by any stretch of the imagination.

But what of Liverpool, the team that beats the best but flounders against the rest? You have to hope that Rafa Benitez is now a converted believer in the powers of Benayoun. The Israeli ran the match, jinking and jostling before playing a pearler of a through-pass for Torres.

He has to start — and stay — for 90 minutes. Maybe then we may start to believe that Liverpool is not a two-man team. Everywhere, there were performances that belied their previous dark days. Carragher defended like a man possessed, and even Lucas had a good game. I was beginning to wonder if he really is Brazilian, so crap was some of his play this season.

Perhaps he was adopted.

Honestly, though, he and Javier Mascherano wrapped up Paul Scholes so tight that he only showed up when he was substituted.

The race for the league has hit its stride now, and all contenders seem to have chinks in their armour. Liverpool will argue that their slump is over, and they have enough time to recover. Only time will tell.

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