Two goals from a resilient Mo Salah and captain Virgil Van Dijk was enough to help Liverpool extend their unbeaten run in the season, a result which now leaves them 16 points ahead of Manchester City in second position.
On Sunday night, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, coach of Manchester United played with a 3-5-2 formation, preferring to go defensive against Liverpool, and operate on the counter attack. Liverpool played with their usual 4-3-3 formation , pairing Van Dijk with Gomez, who have both formed a solid partnership in the heart of defence.
Man United were without their best player this season, Marcus Rashford, due to a back injury and it showed in the first half as Man U. played the first 25 minutes without an attempt on goal. Liverpool were rendered toothless in the first ten minutes as Manchester United won all the aerial duels and second balls and looked the more agile team, but after then Liverpool rained all fire and fury Manchester United’s defence.
With all of Manchester United’s good efforts on and off the ball in the first fifteen minutes, Solksjaer’s men were given a rude awakening and reminded why they were in 5th position when Virgil Van Dijk strolled into the Manchester 18 yard box uncontested to smash a perfectly drilled cross into the net.
Van Dijk’s celebrations were one of defiance, letting the Manchester United fans know that their era of dominance was over and Liverpool, revamped, remodelled and carved under Jurgen Klopp’s tutelage, were the new big boys in the country. Liverpool got more morale after scoring the first goal and scored two more goals that were disallowed.
The first was a Firmino curly finish which occurred after Van Dijk dubiously fouled De Gea in the penalty area, while the second was an offside play by Liverpool’s front three. VAR (Video Assistant Referee) ruled out both goals.
Manchester United had their own chance to score before the end of the first half, but Andreas Pereira (active all through the first half) missed an open sitter right in front of the goal line.
Half Time at the Merseyside— Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United
Klopp, seeing how his team narrowly escaped conceiving a goal at the end of the first half, motivated his players and Liverpool came out as a different animal in the second half. Liverpool attacked, mesmerized, prodded and prodded but just couldn’t score.
No matter what Liverpool did, how many crosses they made or how many through passes that were created, Man U’s defence couldn’t just be breched a second time.
Manchester United introduced Juan Mata, hoping he could break through Liverpool’s defence, and also did a late introduction for Diogo Dalot, a peripheral figure this season, hoping they could sneak in a late goal.
But the unexpected happened!
Van Dijk rose to clear a corner with his head, after Man United applied pressure in the closing minutes of the game. As the ball was given to goalkeeper Alisson, Allison made a long pass which found the feet of a lurking Mo Salah who brushed off Daniel James and placed the ball into United’s net. Scoreline Liverpool 2- Manchester United.
With Salah’s goal, it now means goalkeeper Alisson has an assist more than Manchester United striker Jesse Lingard in the EPL, and Liverpool have now won 21 out of their 22 games in the EPL. Liverpool haven’t also conceded in the last 7 EPL games and are now champions in waiting as they are 16 points clear at the top of the league.