I’m Millsy’s View for The United Devils with your Manchester United vs Liverpool match analysis, the sweetest analysis that there is. I can think of nothing worse than having to write about us losing to Klopp’s men – luckily, I don’t! Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done it again. Last night’s game was an absolute classic 22 years to the day after the game where the gaffer himself provided us with an incredible comeback. It was probably the best derby game there has been for a good few years. It played out in a completely different spirit to last week.
No, this had the feel of a cup game, both teams knowing that a loss would mean they were out. Both managers understand that a league title is at the end of a long slog, one result not the be all and end all. Not here though, this was a truly exhilarating affair that cannot have failed to have fans of both sides, and perhaps even some neutrals, on the edge of their seats. In the end though, the better team won through and shall be marching on to the game against Moyeseh’s West Ham.
The first half started out a little cagey. Manchester United even had more of the ball. This was in very stark contrast to games in recent times when we have been choked of possession. Perhaps that was what led to Salah’s opening goal on twenty minutes. Liverpool for a split second looked like the marauding, devastating side the media likes to paint them as. A pass that cut the defence wide open put Salah one on one with Henderson. A chip took the ball over out goalkeeper and put Liverpool one nil up.
What followed was rather bewildering for Manchester United fans. The Liverpool attacks came in waves. For the next five minutes they looked like they were going to kill the game off already.
If there’s one United side you can count on though, it’s one that are behind. Following that five-minute spell we showed just how dangerous we can be on the counter. Marcus Rashford MBE found himself in a pocket of space on the left-hand side and played a sumptuous ball over the top. Mason Greenwood hadn’t scored in ten games before this one but took this ball down and smashed it past Allisson with consummate ease to level up the match.
The rest of the first half returned to its cagey side as both sides licked their wounds and continued to feel each other out.
The second half got off to a rip-roaring start. Mason Greenwood this time returned the favour to Rashford MBE. He played a beautiful pass over the Liverpool defence on 48 minutes that put Rashford in behind. As he bared down on the keeper, there was a general feeling that he couldn’t miss. And, surprise surprise, he didn’t as he slotted it past Allisson to put Manchester United into the lead for the first time in the game.
United then went into match control mode and for the most part looked rather comfortable. There was one hearts-in-mouth moment when James Milner got one on one with Henderson. Luckily the keeper rushed out to close him down and it was hoofed over the bar.
It was disappointing to see Liverpool then equalise through Salah again. Firmino had been bang average for most of the game, played a decent ball across the area. Milner left it and it was put in by the Egyptian. United’s lead last ten second half minutes. It all came from sloppy play from United and Cavani played a misplaced pass and Liverpool punished us. The team switched off and Solskjaer will need to ensure this doesn’t happen in future.
The game was level again. Salah was played through again with the keeper. He played a tame effort which was saved well after good pressure from Luke Shaw. I wanted to take a moment now to recognise Shaw for his contribution as he continued his recent good form with another excellent display. His linkup play down the left hand side with Marcus Rashford was positively potent.
The Deciding Moment
The game was ticking down nervously towards extra time. But cometh the hour cometh the man and that man is none other than Bruno Fernandes – who else? He has been under pressure in recent weeks as he has put in a couple of less than perfect displays but showed here just why you should never count him out. He was only brought on after 66 minutes as he started on the bench but showed exactly why Donny van de Beek cannot get in in front of him.
Cavani was fouled on the edge of the box by Fabinho. You just knew who was going to step up. He has come close in recent times with his free kicks and this was a golden chance. It was too close to go up and over the wall, so instead he spanked a shot into the keeper’s side corner and put United ahead on 84 minutes.
Manchester United then started cruising to victory vs a shellshocked Liverpool side who just had no answer for Ole’s lads. It could have been 4 as in the dying minutes Cavani put a header onto the post. United were playing for fun. Fernandes played a lovely ball into the box as Cavani leapt like a gazelle. Hwas unlucky to see his effort come back.
This was a real cup classic and a big statement from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. On the night before Frank Lampard was sacked, he showed what a team can do if they keep faith when things are going against them. It is his first Manchester United win vs Liverpool so that’s another hoodoo that he will not have to deal with. There were no VAR decisions. The grass was cut beautifully. There was no excess wind to speak off. Klopp has no excuses. Except from the fact that his team got found out at the hands of Manchester United.