Merseysiders lose to bitter rivals Manchester United despite making most of the running at Old Trafford…
Liverpool suffered their fourth Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday as two Marcus Rashford strikes in 10 first half minutes proved enough of an advantage for Manchester United to defend during a one-sided second period.
The goals, which arrived in the 14th and 24th minutes, were both assisted by Romelu Lukaku as the visitors struggled to deal with the Belgium international’s physicality in the opening exchanges.
Dejan Lovren was the man bettered by the ex-Everton frontman on both occasions but Trent Alexander-Arnold will also feel he should have done better; giving Rashford too much space on the opener and then deflecting the second past Loris Karius.
Virgil van Dijk was a regular danger from set-pieces at the other end – missing one glorious headed opportunity from close-range with the score at 1-0.
Despite carrying the greater threat from open play the visitors were often their own worst enemy with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mané the worst offenders when it came to sloppy passing and dallying too long on the ball.
Liverpool enjoyed a dominant spell after the restart but without overly testing David De Gea, although they had good reason to be unhappy with referee Craig Pawson after two strong penalty shouts were both ignored.
In fairness to United they were defending really well, although by this stage that was all they were doing.
Eventually the hosts were inadvertently undone by themselves when Eric Bailly got in a tangle and redirected a Mané cross into his own net in the 66th minute.
Liverpool camped in United’s half for the remainder of the contest but their pursuit of an equaliser was undermined by wayward shooting and trying to be too intricate with the final ball.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Dominic Solanke were sent on in the closing stages but United, aided by some slices of luck and subtle delaying tactics, clung on to take the bragging rights and strengthen their grip on second place in the process.
It was harsh on Liverpool who made most of the running, with 68% of possession, 14 shots to United’s five and 13 corners to just one for the home side.
Analysing the setback at his post-match press conference, Kop boss Jürgen Klopp remarked: “When the other team scores twice and you score once then this is the result.
“I think if in the end it was a draw, nobody could have a big argument about that. In the situations around the two goals, it was not like it should be – you cannot leave a player alone.
“With Lukaku, he can win the headers sometimes – we did it afterwards [won the headers], but in these two situations we didn’t. You need to be there, everyone knows that and we trained for that of course, around second balls where we had to be – but we were not there.
“They scored twice and that has a big influence on different things in the game – one team gets a big boost, the other one a big blow.
“We saw that for a few minutes but then we came back minute by minute in the game, put them under pressure, had good moments, good passes in the box, Andrew Robertson [getting to the] touchline, set-pieces were pretty much all good, we had headers and didn’t use them.
“Second half, we continued to chase the game. We did that and then we scored the goal and it should have been a penalty around Fellaini’s situation with Sadio – it was the best piece of football in the whole game, a little one-two between the two and then [Mané] would have been completely free in the box.
“You need that, we didn’t have it and lost 2-1. You can say we deserved it because we were not good around the two situations, but I think in a lot of other moments we caused United a lot of problems. We needed more luck in these situations, so that’s the result which we have to take.”
A victory for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday will see Liverpool, who welcome Watford to Anfield next weekend, drop to fourth in the standings.
So that’s what both we and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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