With Miami Heat star LeBron James among the capacity crowd of 45,065 at Anfield, watching Liverpool play live for the first time since becoming a minority owner of John Henry’s Premier League club, Liverpool played to a 1-1 tie with defending champion Manchester United yesterday in London.
Making his first start in seven months, Steven Gerrard converted a free kick to give the home side the lead in the 68th minute. The ball went through a space in the defensive wall that opened when Ryan Giggs moved.
Substitute Javier Hernandez scored on a header in the 81st minute, allowing Manchester United to escape with a draw and maintain its unbeaten start.
Liverpool held possession for more than half the game and finished with eight shots to United’s three.
“I’m sure our fans will feel a little hard done by,’’ Gerrard said. “We’re playing the best side in the league, so I suppose it’s fair enough.’’
United (6-0-2, 20 points) dropped out of first place with the tie. Liverpool (4-2-2) is in fifth place with 14 points.
Manchester City 4, Aston Villa 1 - City (7-0-1) overtook rival United atop the Premier League with 22 points as Mario Balotelli scored on an overhead bicycle kick in the first half and Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany, and James Milner added goals after the break.
Balotelli has scored in four straight games. City and United meet at Old Trafford next Sunday.
Sporting KC 2, Red Bulls 0 - Host Kansas City moved into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference and secured a playoff berth behind goals by Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong. KC (12-9-12) and Philadelphia both have 48 points with one game left.
New York (9-8-16, 43 points) had to play much of the game a man down after forward Thierry Henry was red-carded in the 28th minute for kneeing KC’s Roger Espinoza in the back. Henry entered the game tied for the league lead with 14 goals.
Union 1, Toronto FC 1 - At Chester, Pa., Sebastian Le Toux scored in the 43d minute for Philadelphia (11-7-15), which clinched its first playoff berth. The Union are 3-0-5 in their last eight matches.
Fire 2, DC United 1 - Diego Chaves and Sebastian Grazzini scored in stoppage time for visiting Chicago (8-9-16), which preserved its slim hopes for the final playoff spot. Chaves and Grazzini scored just minutes after DC’s Dwayne De Rosario converted a 90th-minute penalty kick.
Sounders FC 2, Earthquakes 1 - Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero scored in the final 10 minutes for Seattle (17-7-9), sending retiring goalkeeper Kasey Keller out with a victory in his final regular-season home match.
FC Dallas 2, Whitecaps 0 - Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea scored to lead Dallas (15-11-7) past Vancouver in Frisco, Texas. The Whitecaps are the fourth team in MLS history to finish winless on the road (0-12-5).