Murphy penalty seals precious Liverpool victory

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> A Danny Murphy penalty in the 63rd minute gave Liverpool a priceless 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Old Trafford:

A Danny Murphy penalty in the 63rd minute gave Liverpool a priceless 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four of the English Premiership alive. Gerard Houllier's side now have 53 points and have three games left, three ahead of Newcastle, who have two games in hand. The result leaves United in third place and puts Chelsea in the driving seat for second, with the automatic qualification for next year's Champions' League that comes with it. Newcastle United and Chelsea meet at St. James' Park on Sunday. Twenty-one points but only one place in the table separated third-placed Manchester United from Liverpool, fourth, as the 142nd staging of one of English football's fiercest rivalries took place at Old Trafford on Saturday. Both Sir Alex Ferguson and his opposite number Gerard Houllier are chasing Champions' League places, but a big game for both sides lacked some of its traditional bite and the closest the match came to a goal in a dull first half resulted from a deflected John Arne Riise thunderbolt for Liverpool on 26 minutes. Liverpool emerged the more eager of the two sides after the break and pressurised the United back four. When the home side failed to clear from Riise's long throw after 62 minutes, Steven Gerrard burst past United captain Roy Keane into the United box and forced his England colleague Gary Neville into a poorly timed tackle. Referee Mike Riley pointed straight to the spot - the same referee gave United two penalties against Liverpool here last year - and Danny Murphy put the visitors ahead with a classy spot kick. Remarkably, it was the first penalty scored by the opposition at Old Trafford in the Premiership for more than a decade. United upped their game in the search of an equaliser and could hardly have come closer seven minutes from time. Ryan Giggs got on the end of a Louis Saha cross, but his shot thudded against the inside of the post, and rolled away to safety. In actual fact, the ball hit both posts before being cleared - something else that you don't see at Old Trafford every day. In the last minute, United's most effective players combined again for Saha to shoot, but Liverpool 'keeper Jerzy Dudek smothered the chance. Moments later, it was all over. Liverpool had won 1-0, the under-pressure Houllier was mightily relieved and Liverpool remain in fourth place, in line for the last Premiership berth in the Champions' League. United stay third, and may have to pre-qualify next season. (AP)

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