firmino, klopp, jota

MATCH REPORT: MANCHESTER UNITED VS LIVERPOOL, FIRMINO SCORES TWO TO EARN CRUCIAL WIN IN TOP FOUR RACE

A desperate visited Old Trafford in search of three points to boost their Champions League dreams, as the specter of fans protests loomed. United almost took the lead under fortuitous circumstances with Alisson passing straight to Edinson Cavani at the edge of the box. The Uruguayan nutmegged Willams before firing just wide of the retreating goalie. However, it did not take long for the home side to take the lead.

Wan-Bissaka laid off the ball to Fernandes whose shot from just inside the box with the outside of his boot seemed to be heading into the far corner before it hit the outstretched knee of Nat Phillips. The ball deflected past a wrong footed Alisson for the game’s first goal for the Red Devils.

 

 

Liverpool did managed to grow into the game with Henderson producing a smart save with his body to deny Jota a leveler midway through the half. A flashpoint came soon after with the referee Anthony Taylor pointing to spot after Bailly went  through Phillips while clearing the ball. After consulting the pitch-side monitor, Taylor changed his decision leaving Jurgen Klopp with a wry smile on his face.

The away side kept attacking with Jota’s one touch shot forcing Henderson to divert it away for a corner. That resulted in an almighty scramble for the ball which ended with Phillips working out a yard of space. His low shot seemed to be heading wide before the former Wolves man flicked it in to find the leveler.

 

 

Just as halftime loomed, Firmino ghosted in at the far post and headed in an Alexander-Arnold free-kick for his first goal against United that put them firmly in the driving seat after a poor start to the half.

 

 

The second half got off to a calamitous start for the hosts. First, Fred’s poor pass was seized upon by Alexander-Arnold whose cross was cleared to Shaw. The left back then tried to charge his way out before being stopped with Liverpool recycling the ball back to Arnold. His shot was too hot for Henderson to handle whose save was pounced upon by Firmino to put Klopp’s side two goals ahead.

 

 

Jota, by far the most threatening of the front trio, hit the post after being set through on goal with Alexander-Arnold drawing a sharp save moments later as Liverpool went in search of a fourth. Solskjaer’s men were not content with just sitting back either with Rashford halving the deficit after being beautifully set up by Cavani with a through ball behind the Liverpool defence.

 

 

Now it was United on the front foot with Philips having to clear substitute Greenwood’s shot off the line. Klopp responded by bringing on Mane who almost sneaked past Henderson from a raking ball over the top.

With the clock inching near injury time, United started pushing more and more forward which was exploited to great effect by Salah. The Egyptian was set free after a United attack broke down and he coolly slotted the ball past Henderson to effectively end the game as a contest. Rashford did have a chance to reduce the arrears but dragged his shot wide from inside the penalty box as United fell to consecutive defeats.

 

 

Here are our three key takeaways:

 

SLOPPY UNITED FALL AGAIN

The home side got off to the perfect start with Fernandes’ early goal and look well in control of the game for the first half hour. Liverpool, though, stayed alive and leveled matters up with a nifty finish by Jota. With halftime approaching, all United had to do was see out a free-kick. They could not, with Pogba failing to track the run of Firmino who made it 2-1. 

 

 

The second half saw a reversal in fortune, which again could have been easily avoided. Fred and Luke Shaw both made serious errors in judgement leading to Firmino’s second of the match to put the game seemingly to bed. They did create chances to extend their lead but it was Rashford’s neat finish that set up the possibility of another comeback. It was not to be this time as Salah iced the win with his trademark goal that consigned Solskjaer and co. to their sixth home defeat of the season.

 

NERVY LIVERPOOL GET IT DONE

Jurgen Klopp must have feared the worst when his team fell behind in the early minutes as well as having a penalty overturned. The decision to start with Jota proved to be a masterstroke who scored his third career goal against the Red Devils. It got better when Firmino put them ahead, the Brazilian’s first goal ever against United. The second half was a bundle of nerves for the German manager.

 

 

His side raced into a two goal lead with Firmino scoring again, after Alexander-Arnold’s shot came to him. The right-back was in imperious form, having a hand in all three goals as well as looking to get forward at every opportunity. However, it was the home side who scored the next goal as Rashford’s strike made it 3-2 on the night. That set off a sustained spell of United pressure and possession of the ball which seemed to point towards an imminent third goal.

However, substitute Curis Jones’ through ball enabled Salah to bear down on Henderson’s goal in the 90th minute. There was never any doubt as Salah made it 4-2 to seal Klopp’s first win at Old Trafford and keep the Reds in Champions League contention.

 

FAN ANGER AGAIN AT THE FORE

Before kickoff, protests and flares by supporters around Old Trafford and the roads leading to it once again threatened to derail the contest. Elaborate arrangements were made by both clubs in anticipation of the same including United turning their corporate boxes into resting areas for their players who arrived separately many hours before normal time, both the teams using a decoy buses in order to reach the stadium through the back entrances and being escorted by the police.

 

 

The Liverpool bus was even stopped by cars while make their journey but no further harm was done. It is suffice to say that the anger at the Glazers ownership of the club does not look to die down anytime soon and protests at home games will most likely occur in the future as well.

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