Liverpool 2-0 Man United
Europa League last-16 – Anfield – Thursday 10th March 2016
Goals: Sturridge pen (19), Firmino (73)
Jurgen Klopp named arguably his best possible side for the visit of United, in what was an enormous game for English football’s two biggest clubs.
Youngster Marcus Rashford almost stole in early, and Jordan Henderson was booked, as Liverpool enjoyed the best of the ball in the opening exchanges.
In the 19th minute, the Reds were awarded a penalty. Nathaniel Clyne was brought down by Memphis Depay just inside the era, and Sturridge converted the spot-kick with aplomb.
Advantage Liverpool, and it was fully deserved.
David de Gea produced an excellent stop to deny Coutinho from close-range soon after, but the Brazilian should really have scored with the goal gaping. Henderson also tested the Spaniard from range.
United barely offered a thing in the first half an hour, and there was a feeling that Klopp’s men could really put their rivals to the sword.
De Gea made another big stop, this time to keep out Sturridge, as the goalkeeper continued to show why he is easily his side’s most important player.
United’s star man showed good reflexes to keep out Adam Lallana shortly before the break, and it was fitting that another Liverpool chance was the final moment of note in the first-half.
It had been a brilliant performance by the Reds, and the only negative was that they weren’t further ahead.
Louis van Gaal replaced the ineffective Rashford with Michael Carrick at the interval, as the Dutchman tweaked his tactics for the second-half. Liverpool were unchanged.
Morgan Schneiderlin shot straight at Simon Mignolet five minutes after the restart, as United enjoyed a little more of the game.
De Gea, becoming more infuriating by the minute, kept out Coutinho’s dipping long-range strike, but Van Gaal’s team continued to look more threatening than they did in the opening 45 minutes.
Joe Allen replaced Sturridge in the 64th minute, as Klopp tried to dominate a little more in midfield.
Clyne, impressive all evening, tested De Gea from distance midway through the second-half, and Henderson miscued a good chance from just inside the penalty area.
The lead was doubled with 17 minutes left on the clock, in what was a potentially huge moment in the tie. Lallana teed up Firmino, following Carrick’s error, and he finished clinically. Anfield went absolutely wild with joy.
The remainder of the game saw Liverpool pushing for a third, although Marouane Fellaini headed narrowly wide for the hosts late on.
The final whistle was met with much joy, and a brilliant Reds display was richly rewarded.
TIA Man of the Match: Nathaniel Clyne
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Can, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino (Origi 83′), Sturridge.
Subs not used: Ward, Toure, Benteke, Allen, Smith, Ojo
Man United: De Gea, Varela, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin (Schweinsteiger 79′), Fellaini, Memphis, Mata (Herrera 79′), Martial, Rashford (Carrick 46′).
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Riley, Weir
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)