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Remembering The Time Paul Scholes Tried To Punch Xabi Alonso During Manchester United's Trip To Liverpool In 2007

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Remembering The Time Paul Scholes Tried To Punch Xabi Alonso During Manchester United's Trip To Liverpool In 2007

Liverpool fixtures with Manchester United have provided more than their fair share of red cards over the years but few as crazy as when Paul Scholes tried to punch Xabi Alonso.

Scholes saw red back in March 2007. The United man and Alonso had been involved in a succession of spats when Scholes completely lost his rag with four minutes remaining of the clash at Anfield and swung a fist at the Spanish midfielder.

Thankfully for Alonso, no contact was made, but referee Martin Atkinson had no choice but to send Scholes for an early(ish) bath.


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Despite their numerical disadvantage, United had the last laugh, with John O'Shea scoring a 90th-minute winner for the 10 men.

United versus Liverpool is one of the dirtiest derbies in Premier League history.

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Nemanja Vidic was sent off four times against the Merseysiders, while Jonjo Shelvey having a pop at Sir Alex Ferguson following a red card for the Liverpool player is also fresh in the memory.

And who can forget Gary Neville being fined £5,000 by the Football Association for celebrating wildly in front of the away end after a last-gasp winner for United at Old Trafford in 2006.

However, there hasn't been a red card in the fixture since March 2015 when Steven Gerrard kicked Ander Herrera 38 seconds after coming on as a substitute at half-time.

It was the first time United had played at Anfield since Gerrard's infamous slip against Chelsea towards the end of the 2013/14 season.

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Gerrard had spent the first half listening to chants of "You nearly won the league" from United fans and took out his frustration on Herrera almost immediately.


Image: PA
Image: PA

"The game restarted, I went in hard with a fair, but slamming tackle on Juan Mata," wrote Gerrard in his autobiography. "I cleaned out Mata, who went flying, and I won the ball.

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"I was involved again, immediately, as Ander Herrera came hurtling towards me to shut down space. I was too quick for him.

"I completed a simple pass as Herrera came flying in with his sliding tackle. His right leg stretched out invitingly on the Anfield turf. I couldn't stop myself. Without even giving myself time to think I brought my left foot stamping down on Herrera. I felt my studs sink into his flesh just above the ankle. It had to have hurt him.


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"Herrera clutched his ankle and writhed around on the ground. I raised my arm above my head and gestured angrily. I was trying to deflect attention away from me. I knew I was in trouble. But I'm still a footballer and so I pointed at myself, almost in self-defence, as if to say: 'What? Me?'

"'Yes, you,' referee Martin Atkinson's walk said. I didn't like the look of his walk. I didn't like the look of his face.

"Wayne Rooney was close by. Wayne looked at me. He knew I was gone.

"As I left the pitch I asked myself: 'What have you just done? Are you f****** stupid?'


Image: PA
Image: PA

"It had taken me just 38 seconds to get myself sent off against Manchester United. Thirty-eight seconds in which I had been at the heart of every small cameo of action and ferocious display of rage. It had been, in the end, 38 seconds defined by anger and a kind of madness."

Referee Paul Tierney takes charge of Sunday's table-topping fixture between Liverpool and United. For the neutral, some more feisty flashpoints would be more than welcome.

"They've always been our main rival," Ferguson once said. "It's always been our derby. Geographically, historically, the two cities, the two most successful clubs in Britain. When they get together, you expect sparks to fly."

Topics: Liverpool, Paul Scholes, Manchester United, Xabi Alonso

Thomas Harvey
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