1. ITV Report

Anfield fans heed dignity appeals

Liverpool and Manchester United players shake hands prior to kick-off Photo: PA

Supporters heeded appeals to behave with dignity today 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 today's 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.

Parties including United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had urged supporters of the clubs, who share one of football's great rivalries to behave, amid concern some of the cruel chants about the Hillsborough stadium tragedy and Munich air disaster which have surfaced in the past could feature again.

Before the match, Sir Alex told Sky Sports: "We have made all the appeals to our fans that we can do.

"We hope that is adhered to, in respect of the situation that Liverpool find themselves in, at this moment in time, the travesty of the whole thing, and I think that we and Liverpool, as two of the most successful clubs in Great Britain, have to show that unity."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: "This is our chance to show that respect and pay those tributes to the families and to the survivors."

The pair shook hands and wished each other luck, setting the tone for the match.

Merseyside Police tweeted: "Thanks to both sets of fans for respecting the occasion today. The vast majority behaved impeccably and did their clubs proud."