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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Gerrard: Suarez must shake Evra's hand

ESPN staff

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has urged Luis Suarez to lead the way ahead of Sunday's clash between Liverpool and Manchester United and shake hands with Patrice Evra.

Liverpool play their first home match since publication of the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel - which absolved the club's supporters of any responsibility for the 1989 disaster - against their bitter rivals and there have been pleas all week for both sets of fans to respect each other.

However, with an already emotional afternoon set, it could ignite early as Suarez and Evra will be in spotlight for the pre-match handshakes. The Uruguayan refused to shake Evra's hand when the teams played at Old Trafford in February after he had been found guilty last December by an independent regulatory commission of racially abusing the Frenchman and given an eight-game ban.

Now Gerrard hopes that Suarez and Evra can leave their previous differences in the past and show the fans the way towards reconciliation.

"I think those two players could be the key," Gerrard told the Observer. "The handshake is at the beginning of the match and they've got a responsibility to start the day off on a good note.

"I will speak to Suarez and my advice will be to shake hands and move on. Suarez will make his own decision. Of course he will. But I'd like to think he would want to move on himself."

Gerrard made his own call for calm, saying: "I'm sure the Liverpool and Manchester United fans know what the right thing to do is. There's a big game of football and a lot at stake at the weekend. But this is more important than football, what we're talking about. We all love football because of these rivalries. That can't stop. But there's a line."

Gerrard, together with Nemanja Vidic, will release 96 red balloons before the kick-off to remember those killed in the tragedy.

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