Mohamed Salah ended Liverpool’s barren run in front of goal but it was not enough as Man United emerged as 3-2 victors to knock the Reds out of the FA Cup.
Man United 3-2 Liverpool
FA Cup Fourth Round, Old Trafford
January 24, 2021
Salah 18′ (assist: Firmino)
Salah 58′ (assist: Firmino)
Just one week after their previous meeting in the league in what was a drab affair, the FA Cup presented a swift reunion and another opportunity for Jurgen Klopp‘s side to bounce back.
While rotation was expected, the five changes made to the side who tasted defeat against Burnley saw a stronger side than expected take to the Old Trafford pitch.
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones were three names to return as Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped out, with the formula for goals and a win tweaked once more.
The Reds showed flickers of igniting their attacking flair early on, with Trent Alexander-Arnold rediscovering his passing range and the pressure off the ball a noticeable improvement on recent outings.
At the other end of the pitch, it was clear United were eager to target the right channel that Rhys Williams occupied and use their pace to get in behind.
- Firmino and Salah return; Matip not in squad (managed)
- Salah’s double leads to 19th goal of the season in all competitions
- Two assists for Firmino takes season tally to five
- Reds’ FA Cup campaign comes to an end in the fourth round
But after 222 minutes without a goal, Liverpool broke their duck in style thanks to Roberto Firmino‘s inch-perfect diagonal ball to Mo Salah, who chipped Dean Henderson for 1-0.
While Liverpool were the team in the ascendancy, a swift counter-attack from the hosts merely eight minutes on from the opener saw Mason Greenwood level the scores after an exquisite Marcus Rashford cross-field pass.
The equaliser saw the Reds’ control on proceedings wither somewhat, with possession easily handed over to set up dangerous United counters and set-pieces, with the half closing with the hosts on top as Luke Shaw and Rashford rose to prominence on Liverpool’s right.
Half time: Man United 1-1 Liverpool
And they started the second in the same vein, capitalising on an area of weakness as Williams’ air-swing allowed Rashford to bear down on goal without a defender in sight.
The failed clearance left Alisson little chance and a small hand to the ball was not enough to deviate it away from the net just three minutes into the second half.
Possession would sit at the feet of Klopp’s men and as James Milner looked to have wasted one opportunity, another immediately followed as Firmino and Salah combined once more to make it 2-2, with Milner’s dummy allowing the Egyptian to slide the ball through Henderson’s legs.
The goals provided a timely confidence boost in attack and authority to Liverpool’s play started to return, with the goal contributors the clear benefactors.
But a questionable free-kick decision on the edge of the area halted momentum as it provided an opening for Bruno Fernandes, who duly converted beyond an outreaching Alisson to consign Klopp’s men to a second successive defeat.
TIA Man of the Match: Mo Salah
Referee: Craig Pawson
Man United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Van de Beek (Fernandes 66′), Pogba; Greenwood (Fred 66′), Rashford (Martial 86′), Cavani
Subs not used: De Gea, Tuanzebe, Telles, Matic, Mata, James
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, R.Williams, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago (Shaqiri 81′), Milner, Wijnaldum (Mane 62′); Salah, Jones, Firmino (Origi 81′)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Phillips, N.Williams, Tsimikas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino
Next Match: Tottenham (A) – Premier League – Thursday, January 28, 8pm (GMT)