The biggest game of English soccer was played today at Anfield between Liverpool and Manchester United. The visitors escaped with a lucky win after Rooney’s rebound out of the corner kick.
Everything was set for a spectacle between two bitter rivals, and Liverpool opened the game in style; aggressively and with high pressure from the start. However, the hosts failed to capitalise on a few occasions. Adam Lallana had an early chance after a precise lob pass over the United’s defence by Jordan Henderson. De Gea easily handled Lallana’s header, although a Liverpool midfielder had the option to lob – that would be a 1:0 for sure.
Roberto Firmino collected a rebound, but his attempt went just inches wide of the left post. Only two minutes later, James Milner had a half-chance following excellent lob ball from Henderson when he sprinted on the right flank and had only Darmian in front of him, but failed to find the target. Another great chance came in the 30th minute when Firmino pushed the ball forward to Henderson after several short and quick passes among Liverpool midfielders, whose low drive shot finished agonisingly close.
Man United didn’t attempt a single shot on target during the first 45 minutes and presented no threat to Mignolet and Liverpool’s defence.
The second half started in the same manner; the Reds pushed forward and maintained high positioned defence, pressed with success and won the ball easily every time. The hosts enjoyed the possession and five minutes after the break; Emre Can had a fantastic chance to give a lead to his team, but De Gea showed his class yet again and managed to save the left-footed shot from the German.
Visitors saw the first opportunity to take a lead coming their way in the 56th minute when teen star Anthony Martial exploited his pace to beat Clyne and Henderson in a bid to bang the ball inside the poles. However, his shot across the goal line wasn’t good enough, and it was very hard to find the net with a left-footed attempt from the left wing position.
Ten minutes later, another chance went begging as Emre Can tried his luck from 20 yards; however, De Gea once again was at the right place to punch the ball away. Firmino took the rebound and the Spaniard saved his attempt as well.
It was only in the 78th minute when United could sneak through the Liverpool defenders. After a short corner action, Mata’s cross from the left side met the Fellaini’s head and the Belgian attempt hit the crossbar. Wayne Rooney was the quickest to respond and put the ball behind Mignolet, who was untested throughout the game. A very lucky outcome for United.
Jurgen Klopp sent Benteke and Caulker and tried to press for the equaliser, but the Red Devils defended well, and the home team’s finishing wasn’t good enough to avoid the painful defeat at Anfield. Liverpool’s issues from the set-pieces continued to be the weakest part of this team, and Klopp will have to work on them for favourable results.