Evra: I had to shake hands with Suarez on such an emotional day at Anfield
09:38 GMT, 24 September 2012
Patrice Evra says his handshake with Luis Suarez before Manchester United faced Liverpool on Sunday was crucial on a day where the key theme was respect.
The clubs share a fierce rivalry and for them to meet so soon after the Hillsborough revelations made for a very emotionally-charged Anfield.
Suarez and Evra have been involved in a long-standing racism row and the pair did not shake hands when they met in February.
Key moment: Patrice Evra shakes hands with Luis Suarez
Bury the hatchet: Evra and Suarez acted as requested
But Evra insisted it was necessary to put their argument behind them to allow the real importance of the day to come through.
'The most important thing today was respect,' said Evra. 'It was a game between two big clubs.
'There was a big tragedy. People were
talking about a handshake but the stories of the clubs is bigger than
that. If I hadn’t shaken Suarez’s hand, I would not be respecting the
stories of the clubs.
'In the end I am glad this time he
shook my hand. More importantly, it was important to respect the
families. It was not an easy day.'
Focus: Evra appears to avoid eye contact with Suarez from some angles but (below) appears to stare him down
He added: 'In the end, this time, he shook my hand and it was more important to respect the families who lost a lot of people.'
It has been almost 12 months since the row first began and until Sunday it never seemed like it was coming to an end.
Evra's side ran out 2-1 winners on a
day which was still controversial, as Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a
rough challenge on Jonny Evans.
But the Frenchman was delighted to come away with three points on a day when United were not at their best.
'It's unbelievable,' he said. 'To be fair, I always say one of the best sensations is when we win at Anfield.
No deal: The pair did not shake when Man United met Liverpool in February
'We've been coming here for four years
[almost five years], a long time and I've not been seeing a dressing
room like that with smiles on the faces after the game.
'I want to win against Liverpool. If I play badly or play well, I just want to win and that is what we did.'
'It was not an easy game,' he
continued. 'There was a lot of tension and emotion beforehand and, in
the end, we get the three points. It's all we talk about – winning –
because we have done our job and well done to everyone.'
Evra praised his team-mates Rafael and
Robin van Persie for the goals which turned the game around after
Steven Gerrard opened the scoring.
'When you are losing 1-0 at Anfield,
it's really difficult to recover,' he explained. 'It came straight away
and what a goal! Rafael is different class and he scored with his left
foot so I'm so happy for him!
Taunt: Evra celebrated provocatively in front of Suarez when Man United beat Liverpool in February
Incident: Suarez was given a large ban for racially abusing Evra
'I said to Rafa I think he deserves it
as he's working very hard. It's difficult to find a place now in this
XI as the boss has many players who want to play. He said today it was a
game for men and we showed that.
'I think we showed great character. I
don't think we played especially well but we showed big character and
that was most important today.
'I was anxious for the penalty. The
player [Daniel Agger] was on the floor and taking his time and I was
like: “Whoah, what's going on here”
'When Robin shoots, Pepe Reina went
the right way but I think it was a good penalty with power and that's
why he scored. It's why we buy some big players – for big games – and we
Rafael was delighted with his beautiful curling strike which made for United's equaliser.
Fine strike: Rafael celebrates with Robin van Persie after scoring the equaliser
He said: 'It's definitely the best goal I've scored for United. It was a good moment to get it because it was so quick after they scored.
'If we hadn't had scored them we might have got a little bit nervous so it was an important time to get the goal.
He added: 'I was so pleased [to score] for the fans. They always give me such great support and I know this is an important game for them so I'm very happy.'