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Liverpool 3-1 Man United: Super-sub Shaqiri sends Reds back to top of the Premier League

Liverpool regained top spot in the Premier League after they dominated Manchester United and earned a deserved 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool 3-1 Man United

Premier League, Anfield
December 16, 2018


Mane 24′ (assist – Fabinho)
Lingard 34′
Shaqiri 73′ (assist – Mane)
Shaqiri 80′ (assist – Firmino)

After Manchester City‘s win over Everton on Saturday saw them leapfrog the Reds into top spot, Jurgen Klopp‘s men knew only victory would do against the Red Devils on Sunday.

Wins over Everton, Burnley, Bournemouth and Napoli in the last two weeks meant the Reds headed into this fixture in great form, but an overdue one against United would mean so much more.

The boss made four changes to his starting XI, opting to start Naby Keita on the left and Sadio Mane on the right of a four-man midfield, with Roberto Firmino supporting Mo Salah through the middle in attack.

And despite a first-half setback with Alisson‘s error, the Reds were by far the superior team and ran out confident and deserved victors to go back to the top.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes four changes from midweek team in Champions League
  • Fabinho clips brilliant pass in for Mane to open scoring
  • Alisson‘s error gifts Lingard an equaliser
  • Shaqiri scores twice after coming on as sub to send Reds top

Pre-match talk had centered around it being a tight game with few opportunities—but the opening exchanges were anything but.

United, in fact, had the ball in the net inside three minutes, but the offside flag went up against Romelu Lukaku who attempted to put the finishing touch on a free-kick which eventually drifted in unaided.

The Reds were on the front foot soon after though, and twice went close to taking the lead themselves.

Mohamed Salah found himself through on goal after a turnover, but lost his footing and Fabinho‘s shot was eventually deflected wide. Roberto Firmino had a low drive saved and United scrambled clear a couple of corners, as the pace of the game favoured the home side.

Firmino had made a great start to the game and he was instrumental in the Reds taking the lead a quarter of the way through the game.

Having helped win a throw down the left, he spread play infield and Fabinho clipped a tremendous pass over the defensive line, for Mane to run through, control on the chest and slot past David De Gea.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Mane scores the first goal past Manchester United's goalkeeper David de Gea during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds were running riot and it looked only a matter of time before they claimed a second goal—but out of nothing, United were gifted an equaliser.

A low cross from the left looked utterly irrelevant from a defensive perspective, but Alisson somehow spilled the routine catch straight to Jesse Lingard’s feet, who slid in for 1-1.

The error took some of the impetus out of Liverpool’s play, and indeed the pumped-up nature of the Anfield crowd, and the game drifted toward half time with the scores level.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring the first equalising goal to level the score 1-1 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was important the Reds came out strongly after the break following such a dominant first-half display and that was certainly the intent.

Firmino fashioned another chance for himself with some close footwork inside the box, but De Gea saved his shot and Keita, from the rebound, saw his shot blocked by a sliding Ashley Young.

Almost the entire back four, plus Fabinho, tried their hand with long-range shots, but none really suggested a change to the scoreline was imminent.

As the hour mark rolled around, Liverpool were still utterly dominant but De Gea hadn’t again been called upon; a succession of corners failed to create danger and Klopp then turned to his bench for the first time, introducing Xherdan Shaqiri.

The Swiss international came on down the right-hand side—and made an immediate impact.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's 23' celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mane, now on the left, dribbled to the touchline and fired over a cross, which was deflected to Shaqiri’s right boot; his weaker foot it might be, but the winger kept his effort on target and it deflected in, via a defender and the crossbar, to put the Reds back in front.

The super sub wasn’t done there, either; with 10 minutes left on the clock he created space for himself and curled in a second deflected strike to send the Kop wild.

Liverpool were comfortable from that point onward and injury time was played out to the sound of the home fans singing for their rivals to not sack their beleaguered boss.

TIA Man of the Match: Fabinho

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Liverpool: Alisson; Clyne, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Mane (Henderson 83′), Firmino, Keita (Shaqiri 69′); Salah

Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Camacho, Sturridge, Lallana

Man United: De Gea; Dalot (Fellaini 45′), Bailly, Lindelof, Darmian, Young; Matic, Herrera (Martial 79′); Lingard (Mata 84′), Rashford, Lukaku.

Subs not used: Romero, Smalling, Valencia, Pogba

Next Match: Wolves (A) – Premier League – Friday, December 21, 8pm (GMT)

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