Sports – Football – Europa League – Liverpool 2:0 Man United
Liverpool could not have asked for a better set-up, beating bitter rivals Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield in their first ever European meeting, which was the first leg of the Europa League Last 16.
And it could, should and would have been a much worse thrashing and thorough beating if it were not for the Red Devils’ star keeper David De Gea.
The Spanish stopper denied Philippe Countinho, DanielSturridge, Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne with world-class saves, breath-taking athleticism, great reflexes and just brilliant reactions in an explosive atmosphere.
Jürgen Klopp’s men took the lead thanks to a Sturridge 20th minute spot kick, after Memphis Depay fouled Clyne in the box, and it was more than deserved with the Reds having outplayed and outclassed LVG’s eleven by far.
The visitors did not create a single chance with Liverpool giving them no time on the ball, surrounding them at every chance, and can only thank de Gea’s brilliance for keeping them in the tie with a hint of a shout. Marouane Fellaini was lucky to stay on the pitch with a very clumsily dirty displace.
Roberto Firmino did double the score in the 73rd minute, scoring in three consecutive LFC games for the first time, making it three consecutive wins for the Reds in all competitions.
This impressive win ended United’s run of four consecutive victories in the two sides’ meetings. The only disappointment for the Reds was that they did not score more. An away goal at Old Trafford in the second leg should do it. If it’s not already done.
United’s only shot on target came in the 51st minute, a tame low effort my Morgan Schneiderlin, not much to do for Simon Mignolet. The Red Devils will have to dig so much deeper if they want to come back from this one.
With the FA Cup giving Liverpool a break this weekend, whilst United face West Ham in the quarter final, the power and score advantage stays with the Reds from Merseyside. Only time will tell and we’ll know come Thursday night whether they will bounce and pounce, or slip and trip, with for and consistency being neither sides’ main feature or strength this season.
Liverpool Goals: Sturridge pen 20’ & Firmino 73’.
Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 18 Moreno, 17 Sakho, 6 Lovren (booked 43’), 2 Clyne; 10 Coutinho (booked 49’), 23 Can, 14 Henderson (c) (booked 2’), 20 Lallana; 11 Firmino (27 Origi 84’); 15 Sturridge (24 Allen 64’). 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: 4 Toure, 9 Benteke, 44 Smith, 52 Ward & 54 Ojo.
Man United Team: 1 De Gea; 5 Rojo, 17 Blind, 12 Smalling, 30 Varela; 27 Fellaini (booked 60’), 28 Schneiderlin (31 Schweinsteiger 79’), 7 Memphis Depay (booked 19’), 8 Mata (c) (21 Herrera 79’), 39 Rashferd (booked 45’) (16 Carrick 45’); 9 Martial. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 20 Romero, 36 Darmian, 47 Weir & 49 Riley.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Man of the match: David De Gea
Match Stats: Liverpool-Man United
On target: 8-1