Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United side fell to an embarrassing defeat at Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool managing to score seven past the recently crowned Carabao Cup champions. The Red Devils weren’t able to replicate the thrashing that their women’s side dealt Leicester earlier on Sunday, and their performance looked worlds apart from the dominating play we’ve seen recently from the Old Trafford outfit.
LIV: Alisson (GK); Robertson, Van Dijk, Konate, Alexander-Arnold; Henderson, Fabinho, Elliott; Nuñez, Gakpo, Salah
MUN: De Gea (GK); Shaw, Martinez, Varane, Dalot; Fred, Casemiro; Fernandes, Weghorst, Antony; Rashford
United had an air of complacency about them from the get-go, and Liverpool sought to deal them a damaging blow early on – but Robertson’s corner towards Nuñez was dealt with well by a resilient defence. Alisson was also put to work soon after kick-off, pushing Antony’s curling strike wide of the post.
An even better chance arrived for the Red Devils shortly before the 30th minute, as Diogo Dalot’s cross swung in from the right found Bruno Fernandes – though the captain’s header was sent marginally wide of the post to keep the contest goalless.
United found the back of the net before the break – as Casemiro headed home from Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick, but the Brazilian midfielder was quite clearly offside. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jurgen Klopp’s side broke free at the other end of the pitch and bagged the opener – and this one really would count, as Cody Gakpo found a way around Raphael Varane before bending the ball into the bottom-right corner to send Anfield into jubilation just before the break.
That lead was doubled soon after the interval – with Darwin Nuñez the next player on the scoresheet. A clumsy loss of possession by the United defence was pounced upon well by Harvey Elliott, who fizzed a cross in towards the Uruguayan – and Nuñez duly headed home to add to Liverpool’s advantage.
The hosts were far from done though, and Cody Gakpo bagged his brace three minutes later. After playing in Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo received the ball again before chipping David De Gea to further extend the hosts’ lead! Liverpool were well and truly cruising, despite a first-half that should really have seen United go ahead.
Fifteen minutes passed before Liverpool made it 4-0 – this time it was Mohamed Salah, as the Egyptian finished off a blistering counterattack with a rifling shot that hit the crossbar before trickling over the line. Having scored the second goal, it was Nuñez with the assist!
The Uruguayan could smell blood though, and he became the second Liverpool player to bag a brace with his 75th minute header. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick in from the right flank was cleared well by United – but only as far as Jordan Henderson, who sent a cross towards Nuñez and the striker duly directed it into the top-right corner.
You’d think it’d be all about damage limitation when you’re getting hammered by one of your biggest rivals with less than ten minutes to play – but if that was the message Erik Ten Hag gave his side, they didn’t execute it very well at all. Harvey Elliott was left in acres of space on the right flank, playing in Roberto Firmino – who will leave the club in the summer – and the Brazilian eventually set up Salah, who fired home into an open goal to become Liverpool’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer. What a game to do it in!
Six goals to nil – but not for long. Having provided the assist for the sixth goal, Firmino wanted to get on the scoresheet himself – and he did so in the 88th minute after Salah cut the ball back across the face of goal. Firmino then did well to fire a classy finish past Dalot on the line, sending Liverpool fans into a state of absolute ecstasy.
The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Erik Ten Hag’s United side. In all honesty, calling them United doesn’t feel right after that performance – they were disjointed, overconfident and subpar – but as backwards as it sounds, perhaps they needed to lose. The Red Devils clearly aren’t at the level where they can challenge for the Premier League title, and while more silverware may well be on the cards this season, it’s unlikely to be the league trophy that they’re lifting in May.
It’s a vital win for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool though, and the Redmen move up into fifth place. They’ve got a game in hand over 4th-place Spurs, and a win would see them move into the top four on goal difference. Could the Anfield outfit really turn their season around and qualify for the top flight of European competition again despite their atrocious start to the season? We’ll have to wait and see!