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9 players who became cult heroes by scoring in Man United v Liverpool fixtures

For many years Man United vs Liverpool was the most-watched football game on the planet.

These days El Clasico has that honour but the M62 derby remains the biggest fixture in British football.

Two clubs steeped in history with 38 league triumphs between them.

Over the years many players have broken rank and taken centre stage by scoring vital goals in this fixture, becoming cult heroes instantly.

Many star players have made this fixture their own over the years (Owen, Ferdinand, Torres, Rooney, Gerrard, Berbatov, etc) but in this case we’re only interested in those who are remembered primarily for their contribution to United v Liverpool.

Strap in…

1 Diego Forlan

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The Uruguayan’s time at Old Trafford was nowhere near as prosperous as his later spells with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.

He frequently appears in lists concerning Premier League flops but Man United fans can be heard chanting his name to this very day.

Why? Because of three dramatic minutes at Anfield in 2002.

Forlan scored twice past a vulnerable Jerzy Dudek to end a run of five consecutive losses against Liverpool to snatch a 2-1 win.

2 David N’Gog

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It’s stoppage time with United heaping on the pressure as Liverpool desperately cling on to their one goal lead.

It’s Fergie Time and Anfield knows it; the Kop is on edge.

Suddenly, the hosts spring a counterattack and N’Gog has a clear run at goal.

The Frenchman somehow finds the composure to slot past Edwin van der Sar and ensure a famous win for Liverpool.

It would prove to be far and away the most important of his nine league goals for the club.

3 John O’Shea

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If you need any more proof that Alex Ferguson is a footballing oracle, cast your mind back to the time he subbed Rooney off for John O’Shea and it earned him three points at Anfield.

The Irish utility player broke the deadlock in the 90th minute and United fans will be forever grateful.

Absolute scenes.

4 Ryan Babel

babel

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Ryan Babel might be remembered more for a hilarious Photoshop incident involving Howard Webb, but a late winner against United in 2008 means he’s engrained in Anfield folklore.

After falling behind to Carlos Tevez’s early strike, an own goal by Wes Brown had levelled proceedings before Babel swept in Dirk Kuyt’s pass.

In front of the Kop. With just ten minutes remaining.

The stuff of dreams.

5 Danny Murphy

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No non-United player has scored more winners at Old Trafford than Danny Murphy. Fact.

In the early noughties, just the mention of his name sent a shiver down Fergie’s spine.

A massively underrated midfielder who always saved his best (free-kicks) for United v Liverpool.

6 Rafael

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The Brazilian right-back was a fan favourite among the Old Trafford faithful.

His beautiful left foot finish in 2012 cancelled out Steven Gerrard’s opener and inspired United to come from behind and take all three points.

Fan favourite status instantly established.

7 Dirk Kuyt

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The hardworking Dutchman’s hat-trick in 2011 may be the worst hat-trick ever scored in terms of quality of goals. Combined distance = 4 yards.

But add in the context; the opponent, the result, the rivalry, and it’s one of the greatest personal achievements in Liverpool’s recent history.

He also scored an 88th minute winner against United in the FA Cup a year later.

8 Park Ji-Sung

park-ji-sung

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Fergie’s man for the big occasion.

The South Korean regularly appeared in United’s starting line-up when the stakes were high.

And in 2010 it paid off more than ever when he scored against Liverpool at Old Trafford to the approval of 70,000 frenzied Mancunians.

9 Mikael Silvestre

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Before the game all the talk was about Rio Ferdinand’s return from his eight-month ban for missing a drugs test.

But it was another United defender who grabbed the headlines.

Two headers from Mikael Silvestre spared John O’Shea’s blushes after the Irishman had inadvertently diverted Steve Finnan’s effort past Roy Carroll.

The French defender’s celebrations were restrained but his team-mates’ weren’t — Ferdinand made sure he was the last player to leave the pitch, soaking up Old Trafford’s joy.

Special memories.