Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Anfield fans heed dignity appeals

Sir Bobby Charlton (left) passes flowers to Ian Rush on the pitch prior to kick-off
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (left) and Manchester United'S Patrice Evra shake hands prior to kick-off

Supporters heeded appeals to behave with dignity as Liverpool met old rivals Manchester United in their first home match since the publication of the report into the Hillsborough disaster.

The mood was one of remembrance on an emotion-charged afternoon where the 96 victims were uppermost in everyone's minds.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel absolved the club's supporters of any responsibility for the 1989 tragedy, and criticised South Yorkshire Police.

Manchester United won the match 2-1, with a penalty by Robin van Persie deciding the issue nine minutes from time.

The result, though, was put in perspective by ceremonies before the match in which United legend Sir Bobby Charlton carried a bouquet of 96 roses to hand to former top Liverpool striker Ian Rush, and captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons.

Fans applauded in memory of those who died and mosaics including the words The Truth and Justice were displayed during the traditional playing of Liverpool anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone".

To add to the harmonious mood, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and United defender Patrick Evra joined the other players in a pre-match handshake.

Suarez was found guilty last December by an independent regulatory commission of racially abusing Evra and banned for eight games by the Football Association.

The Uruguayan attacker, who denied the charge against him, refused to shake French defender Evra's hand when the teams played at Old Trafford in February.

Players of both teams wore the number 96 on their tracksuit tops in tribute to those who died.

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