Liverpool’s chances of finishing second in the Premier League took a major blow as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Man United 2-1 Liverpool
Premier League, Old Trafford
March 10, 2018
Rashford 14′ (assist – Lukaku)
Rashford 24′ (assist – none)
Bailly OG 66′ (assist – Mane)
After their quiet night in Europe in midweek, the spotlight turned back towards the Reds for one of their biggest games of the season on Saturday.
With fourth-placed Tottenham bearing down on them with Bournemouth to play on Sunday, the importance of a Liverpool win was hammered home, and as such Jurgen Klopp returned to his strongest available side.
- Klopp makes 5 changes, Henderson left out
- Rashford nets twice as United take long-ball approach
- Bailly own goal gives Liverpool lifeline in second half
- Reds fall behind in race for second-placed finish
As expected, United adopted a route-one approach, with Romelu Lukaku supported by Juan Mata, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford in an otherwise negative setup.
It paid off for the home side after soaking up pressure from the Reds, with Lukaku heading on David de Gea’s long kick to allow Rashford through to turn Trent Alexander-Arnold and fire home.
This shifted the onus onto Liverpool to create from different situations, and Van Dijk had a great opportunity to equalise from James Milner‘s corner, but the Dutchman frustratingly headed wide.
Then United benefited from another long ball, with a mixup at the back allowing Rashford to curl in his second of the afternoon and extend United’s lead.
The Reds opened the second half in more positive fashion, with Salah finding pockets of space behind a crowded United defence and Alexander-Arnold providing more valuable width down the right.
It was Mane, having previously toiled to no avail, who clawed one back however, with the winger surging down the left flank and drilling in a cross which Eric Bailly turned into his own net.
Jose Mourinho responded by sending on Marouane Fellaini, with United’s brief clear: aiming to stifle any hope of Liverpool clawing back for a result.
That certainly paid off, with cynical tactics and bullish defensive play depriving the Reds of any further opportunity to get back into the game and the race for second.
There was plenty of fight from Klopp’s side, but they were eventually made to pay for two very similar goals conceded off long balls.
TIA Man of the Match: Emre Can
Referee: Craig Pawson