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Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012

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Where did you come from?: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel (left) and United's Robin van Persie compete on Sunday. AFP-JIJI

Van Persie penalty lifts United to win over Liverpool


LONDON — Robin van Persie ended Manchester United's five-year wait for a win at Liverpool on Sunday, and Arsenal maintained its unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a draw at Manchester City.

Van Persie converted a late penalty kick to clinch a 2-1 victory at Anfield after both teams had paid tribute to the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster before the game.

United was a man up from the 39th minute when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off, but Steven Gerrard managed to give Liverpool the lead with a volley at the start of the second half — only for Rafael da Silva to equalize.

And Van Persie's winner prolonged Liverpool's worst start to a season in more than a century, while lifting United to second.

City is three points further back after Joleon Lescott headed the champions ahead in the first half, but then failed to clear a late corner, allowing Laurent Koscielny to recover a 1-1 draw for Arsenal.

Also Sunday, Jermain Defoe's winner gave Tottenham a 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers and Demba Ba gave Newcastle a 1-0 victory over Norwich.

The day's action began with an emotionally charged meeting of English soccer's fiercest rivals as Liverpool played at Anfield for the first time since the release of a report into the Hillsborough tragedy that exposed the police coverup and exonerated Reds fans.

In a show of unity before kickoff, Liverpool and United players wore tracksuit tops featuring the number 96 — the amount of Reds fans crushed to death 23 years ago.

Luis Suarez even shook hands with Patrick Evra, with no repeat of the snub that followed the Liverpool striker being banned for racially abusing the United defender in the Anfield fixture last October.

But by the end of the game there had been chants from a small number of Liverpool fans about the 1958 Munich disaster which killed eight United players. And, despite pre-match appeals from manager Alex Ferguson, there were taunts from United fans directed at the home support.

The usual hostilities had started to rage after Shelvey was sent off for launching himself at Jonny Evans, who Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt should also have been dismissed.

"I think both players' feet are off the floor," he said.

There was also a heated exchange of words between Shelvey and Ferguson, who later said: "He was trying to blame me."

There was an apology — of sorts — from Shelvey later.

"I have also apologized to Sir Alex, just where I come from people don't grass people up to get someone sent off," Shelvey wrote on Twitter.

Terry quits England team


LONDON — Former England captain John Terry unexpectedly quit international soccer Sunday before he was due to face a Football Association hearing on a racism charge, saying his place on the team had become "untenable."

Despite being cleared in court of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match last year, Terry was facing a lengthy ban if found guilty by an F.A. panel this week.

"I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision," Terry said.

The 31-year-old Chelsea defender was fired as England's captain in February but was allowed to continue playing.

"I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the F.A. disciplinary charge because I feel the F.A., in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable," Terry said.

Terry has no plans to stop playing for Chelsea, where he has spent his entire career.

But the F.A. could still ban Terry for eight club matches, the punishment Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received last year for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in a game.

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