More than 10 days after this game was originally supposed to happen, Manchester United finally host Liverpool at Old Trafford in their ‘big’ Premier League game of the season. They went down to a 2-4 loss in a really entertaining contest which ensured that Jurgen Klopp’s side’s ambitions to secure a Champions League dream stays alive.
The Red Devils started the game strongly and received a fortunate opener in the 10th when Bruno Fernandes’ ambitious effort was powered into the goal by Nat Philips.
Going by ‘official confirmation’ – that goal has been given to Fernandes. However, Liverpool stepped up their game afterwards and scored the equalizer in the 34th thanks to a clever finish from Diogo Jota. The first half ended in horrible fashion for United – as Liverpool completed the comeback in minutes before half-time when Roberto Firmino powerfully headed in from a great free-kick.
Liverpool started the second half in lively fashion and pounced on United’s mistakes to score a smash & grab goal from Firmino – making it 3-1 in the 47th minute! United seemed to be jolted by that and went surging forward – managing to pull one back in the 67th-minute thanks to a smart finish from Marcus Rashford.
Just when it looked like United would be able to get something out of the game – Mo Salah sealed the deal with a goal in the 90th minute after a swift counter-attack. At the end of the day – Liverpool had more at stake in this one and were just hungrier to win it.
United just weren’t motivated enough & their sloppiness cost them – as it occasionally looked like they were repaying LFC for having the game postponed. That’s 2 losses in a row for the first time this season & the Red Devils will hope that was their final loss of the campaign.
Manchester United player ratings vs Liverpool
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (4.5)–
Solskjaer went with his strongest XI available on paper – but his decision to play Rashford on the right-wing cost him again. Marcus was poor there all half and seeing his display in the last half-hour, would’ve been much better on the left. Playing Pogba on the left failed too – while having no Maguire meant his side gave away the ball too much while playing it out of defence.
His defensive line looked very shaky and disorganized today which will be a point of worry with the Europa League final to come & Maguire likely to miss. His substitutions didn’t work at all and somehow it didn’t look like he nor United were ready to go the extra mile into winning the game. Just couldn’t instil that hunger into them that Klopp did to his LFC stars. Needs to get his side firing again after 2 back-to-back losses.
Dean Henderson (4.5) –
Henderson reacted very sharp to deny an equalizer in the 23rd – standing his ground to stop Jota’s attempt from close. Then makes a great save to deny him again in the 34rd – making a terrific one-handed stop to parry over his shot. But unable to do anything about Jota’s attempt a minute after for the equalizer.
Should’ve done better for Firmino’s second as Alexander-Arnold’s shot was spilt by him before the striker converted it. Somewhat makes amend with a great challenge on Mane to deny him a clear goal in the 75th. Made it too easy for Salah to score his late goal. Disappointing display that shows Henderson still has much to learn to become the undisputed United no.1.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (6.0) –
Wan-Bissaka looked an adventurous figure going forward from the get-go and made a clever run into the box before laying it for Fernandes to ‘assist’ his goal. In a game where United were extremely poor defensively, Wan-Bissaka was the only defender who seemingly didn’t make any errors.
Created some good chances with his delivery, made some terrific clutch tackles & challenges to clear danger – ensuring that Liverpool couldn’t really create much through his side.
Eric Bailly (5.5) –
A bit sloppy start and maybe a bit fortunate not to give away a penalty early on when a shot seemingly hit his hand – even though the ball mistakenly hit his arm. Again plays with fire in the 27th and almost gives away a penalty before VAR saves him. Stop making those wild challenges, Eric! Could’ve improved his positioning a bit to deny few of the goals and wasn’t totally compelling with his risky defending.
Victor Lindelof (5.0) –
Playing in Maguire’s position in his absence, Lindelof just doesn’t seem to have the same commanding nature. Couldn’t maintain a tight enough defensive line and unable to do anything to stop Liverpool from scoring two in the first half. Should’ve just played the ball out of defence himself to deny the third and looked nervous against Liverpool’s attackers.
Luke Shaw (4.5) –
The best left-back in the league faces off against the top scorer in Mo Salah today. Not as dangerous moving forward today but kept Salah at bay with some decent work in the first half. Sloppy start to the second – as he tried to be way too fancy in carrying the ball ahead before losing it & encouraging LFC to score the third. Surprising error-prone and his first disappointing display in many months.
Scott McTominay (3.5) –
McTominay looked unnerved by the pace of Liverpool’s attacks and been quite shaky with his defensive work. Couldn’t implement his authority in the game at all and his offensive contribution was woeful. Tried playing some fancy long balls that completely failed and most of his tackles were poor-timed too.
Fred (5.0) –
The Brazilian midfielder seems recharged from some rest and is really buzzing like a bee in the middle. Doing his all to take the fight to LFC’s midfielders and regained possession many times to spark counter-attacks in the first half. Too callous starting the second half and poorly gave away the ball inside his own area to kick-start the calamity of errors leading to Firmino’s second.
Then again horribly gives the ball away in the 59th but lucky to see him bailed out with Jota hitting the post from the break. After a fiery start, Fred just lost his senses as the intensity rose and made too many silly mistakes. Taken off after the hour-mark.
Paul Pogba (4.5) –
The Frenchman seems to have been the license to operate in a free role today. Seems to be enjoying it as well, moving all over the attack. Played a beautiful cross-field ball to kick-start the move for the opener. Struck a looping header just wide in the 31st. Then skips past a few bodies before driving a left-footed shot into the side-netting 10 minutes later.
Poor reaction for Liverpool’s second – losing mark of Firmino to let him score the goal. Moved the ball better after moving into a midfield role but didn’t work hard enough to stop Liverpool’s breaks. Disappointing performance considering he went into the game in good form.
Bruno Fernandes (6.5) –
Captains his first ‘big game’ for United in Maguire’s absence. Luck favours him for the opener, with his outside-of-the-boot attempt being blasted into the net by Philips. Was at the heart of everything good in United’s attacks and created quite a few chances – including playing a clever flick to Cavani allowing him to assist Rashford’s goal.
Was kicked around all game by the Liverpool players and did not have it easy at all. Tried his best to lead his side to a result but those around him were extremely underwhelming.
Edinson Cavani (6.0)-
Cavani had a big chance to score in the 5th after intercepting Alisson’s pass just outside the box but his reflex shot went barely wide of the target. After being tightly-marked all game, he found some space and played a smart pass to assist Rashford’s goal. He worked extremely hard and got into some promising spaces but just couldn’t get any shots on target in a frustrating game.
Marcus Rashford (5.5) –
Rashford is back in the right-wing role – where he really doesn’t fancy playing at. He just plain sucked in that role before finally being move to his natural left-wing role. That bore almost immediate effect as he cleverly broke through Liverpool’s defensive line and slipped a shot past Alisson to make it 2-3.
He got reenergized by that and brilliantly moved through on goal in the 76th inside the area – but his shot hit the side-netting. Should’ve scored the goal late into added time – slicing an attempt wide in a 1v1 area. Very mixed performance.
Mason Greenwood (6.0) –
Nearly scored the equalizer after coming on but his shot from close was cleared off the line before the rebound was also blocked. Unable to do anything special after that.
Nemanja Matic (N/R) –
Sloppily gave the ball away for Salah’s goal. Made way too many mistakes in the little cameo he made.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fernandes was arguably United’s best player on the day – but Firmino deserves this MOTM for scoring the brace today.