Charles Reep, Charles Hughes and Graham Taylor, advocates of the more direct route, using fewer passes to reach the opposition's goal, would have allowed themselves a wry smile at Liverpool's winner: Pepe Reina, Andy Carroll, Dirk Kuyt, goal. Manchester United dominated possession but Liverpool cleverly dropped off and protected the width of their penalty area more than adequately.

Often the statement is trotted out that the better team lost. But what is the better team? And is it of any consequence? This game was a perfect illustration that controlled possession is not necessarily a recipe for success, unless that superiority is translated into chances and goals. Liverpool deserve credit for a clear plan and philosophy and making substitutions at the right time.

Jamie Carragher, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard backed off Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who bossed the midfield area. With their sharp touches and movement, they enjoyed much more of the ball. Liverpool's midfield dropped off, avoiding the trap of playing too high and allowing Scholes and Giggs to play around and beyond them.

Liverpool did not overly attempt to destroy their passing rhythm, their discipline ensuring they defended solidly and played on the break. When Daniel Agger leapt highest to give Liverpool the lead in the first half with David de Gea lost in a forest of bodies , it was marginally against the run of play. United's midfield, neater and sharper, looked to supply Antonio Valencia, who carried the greatest wide threat, with Rafael da Silva quick to support him. On the other flank, Patrice Evra, oblivious to the chants from the Liverpool supporters, foraged, with Stewart Downing forced to drop deep to help Martin Kelly. When possession was conceded, Liverpool were pretty much in a 4-5-1 formation.

United were composed around the area, but Liverpool's interceptions and tackles denied the visitors efforts on goal. Reina had a comfortable half, his team-mates counterattacking and resisting United's possession. Park Ji-sung's superb equaliser was only partial reward for their dominance.

Having contained enterprising opponents, Kenny Dalglish waited patiently and then threw off the shackles, changing the mood by introducing the more creative Charlie Adam and the energetic Dirk Kuyt midway through the second half. Carragher, who was replaced, had disciplined himself to sit deep and not chase the ball. Gerrard, more defensive than usual, had shown little influence but embraced Dalglish's plan.

More intent on attacking after Craig Bellamy's pace was added minutes later, Liverpool's timing was perfect. Andy Carroll had more support and United, so far comfortable, were unnerved. United responded, Javier Hernández replacing the wonderful Scholes to mirror Liverpool's 4-4-2 system, but the momentum was with the home team.

United may feel hard done by, but possession must be turned into goals.