Man United 1-1 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-1 on aggregate)
Europa League last-16 – Old Trafford – Thursday 17th March 2016
Goals: Coutinho (45); Martial pen (32)
Jurgen Klopp made just one change to the side that won 2-0 against the Red Devils at Anfield a week ago, and it was an alteration that was forced upon the German.
It was Liverpool’s biggest game of the season so far, on what had the potential to be a nerve-shredding night at Old Trafford.
It was a ferocious atmosphere, and the game took a little while to settle down, with nerves no doubt playing a part for both teams.
Marouane Fellaini went unpunished after another elbow, this time on Roberto Firmino. In truth, a yellow card would have been fair, rather than a red.
Jesse Lingard had the first big chance of the match, with Simon Mignolet producing a fine stop to keep out the youngster’s header. The Belgian showed poor decision-making when the hanging cross came into the penalty area, however.
Juan Mata dragged a volley wide soon after, when he should have done better, as the hosts started to look dangerous in the final third. Anthony Martial fired over.
David de Gea made an excellent save to keep out Philippe Coutinho‘s stinging drive, as Liverpool’s threat on the counter-attack grew. Firmino’s dipping effort was also stopped by the United goalkeeper.
Half an hour into proceedings, United were awarded a penalty, after Nathaniel Clyne fouled Martial. The Frenchman converted the spot-kick with ease, and it had been coming.
Daniel Sturridge hit the crossbar with a free-kick shortly after the goal, and it was vital that the Reds rebuilt after a shaky spell.
Jordan Henderson missed a glorious chance to level the scores before half-time, but Marcos Rojo had an even better opportunity just after, firing wide from close-range.
Right on the stoke of half-time, Liverpool were level. Coutinho, having a really poor night up until that point, beat Guillermo Varela with ease down the left before producing a sublime dinked finish.
It was an enormous moment, and a goal of pure footballing brilliance, just seconds before the two sides left the pitch at the break.
Varela was replaced by Antonio Valencia, following his suspect defending for Coutinho’s goal, but Klopp made no changes to line-up.
Fellaini yet again avoided more severe punishment when he blatantly elbowed Dejan Lovren, only picking up a booking when he deserved his marching orders.
Teenager Marcus Rashford poked wide 11 minutes after the restart, but Liverpool were looking more composed than in the opening 45 minutes. Fellaini headed straight at Mignolet.
Martial, comfortably United’s most dangerous player throughout, fired wide of the target, as Louis van Gaal’s desperately searched for a way back into the game.
Divock Origi replaced the disappointing Sturridge midway through the second-half, as Klopp looked the utilise the young Belgian’s pace. Joe Allen also came on for Henderson with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Coutinho twice had a chance to completely kill the tie off as a contest, but De Gea denied the Brazilian on both occasions.
The match began to peter out in the final 10 minutes, much to the joy of the travelling Reds supporters.
Coutinho shot over from a free-kick, and Daley Blind missed the target for United, as Liverpool saw out the remaining moments with ease.
It was a superb result over the two legs, and Liverpool are into the Europa League quarter-finals. It doesn’t get much better than knocking out United.
TIA Man of the Match: Mamadou Sakho
Man United: De Gea, Varela (Valencia 46′), Smalling, Blind, Rojo (Darmian 62′), Carrick (Schweinsteiger 70′), Fellaini, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Rashford.
Subs not used: Romero, Williams, Schneiderlin, Memphis
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Milner, Can, Henderson (Allen 71′), Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino (Benteke 84′), Sturridge (Origi 67′).
Subs not used: Ward, Toure, Smith, Ibe
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia)