Manchester Utd 3 - Liverpool 0
My reactions live to this were that this was one of the most disgraceful displays of a player reaction in a long time; not helped by the fact he completely lost his cool and would not leave the pitch until he was dragged away by Liverpool players and management. Mascherano, however, believes he should not have been penalised in the first instance. He told the Liverpool Echo after the game: "I do not know why I was sent off. When the referee showed me the second yellow card and sent me off I could not believe it. I asked the referee what was happening. I did not swear, I was not aggressive and I did not confront him."
Mascherano's behaviour came in the wake of Chelsea defender Ashley Cole's show of petulance to referee Mike Riley last week and the Football Association's launch of their 'Respect' campaign - aimed at improving conduct towards officials. Notwithstanding Sir Alex Ferguson's outburst during the match which recieved precisely nothing (remember the FA did bring Sir Alex into contempt after similar rages against a referee back in November).
The problem with this is that in the context of the match the whole character of the fixture changed, with 10-men Liverpool constantly playing chasey for the second half. Several free kicks awarded to Man Utd for trivial offences merely added to the woes, and the second and third goals were merely outworkings of this.
Somewhere down the line, the referee has to be brought into question though. It's all very well to protect the referee from dissent but I wonder at what point his performance should be questioned. Vidic escaped scott-free from his tackle on Fernando Torres, when in the same match, yellows were dealt out for far lesser offences. When Anderson brought down Torres, he was not even punished by Bennett, who re-started the game after treatment for the player with a drop-ball in the United half. Torres now awaits the results of scans on ankle and back injuries.
Maybe... I hadn't thought of that...