Marcus Rashford’s first-half double inspired Manchester United to a crucial 2-1 victory over rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The England forward’s thunderous drive fired United into the lead on 14 minutes – his first Premier League goal since December 10 – and he doubled his tally with a deflected second 10 minutes later.
Eric Bailly’s 66th-minute own goal handed an improved Liverpool a route back into the game but United withstood a late onslaught to secure their first victory over their rivals since January 2016.
The victory sees Jose Mourinho’s men extend their unbeaten league run against Liverpool to eight games and opens up a five-point lead over Jurgen Klopp’s side in the race for second.
There was a subdued start to the 200th meeting between England’s two most-decorated clubs, but Rashford, making his first league start since Boxing Day, ignited the contest.
Romelu Lukaku bullied Dejan Lovren to flick a David de Gea punt into the path of Rashford, who cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold before ruthlessly rifling the ball into the far corner.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Valencia (6), Bailly (7), Smalling (7), Young (8), McTominay (6), Matic (6), Mata (6), Rashford (8), Sanchez (6), Lukaku (7).
Subs: Romero (6), Darmian (6), Lindelof (6), Shaw (6), Fellaini (6), Carrick (6), Lingard (6).
Liverpool: Karius (5), Alexander-Arnold (5), Lovren (5), Van Dijk (5), Robertson (6), Milner (5), Can (5), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Salah (6), Mane (5), Firmino (5).
Subs: Wijnaldum (5), Lallana (5), Solanke (5).
Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford.
Virgil van Dijk should have drawn Liverpool level on 23 minutes but he headed James Milner’s corner wide from five yards – and Rashford made him pay for the miss a minute later.
After Lukaku got the better of Lovren in the air again, Juan Mata’s attempted shot was blocked into Rashford’s path and his low effort took a nick off Alexander-Arnold on its way past Karius.
United so nearly had a third on 39 minutes but Mata’s overhead kick flashed wide, moments before Ashley Young brilliantly denied Liverpool a lifeline, preventing Andrew Robertson’s cross from setting up Mohamed Salah for a tap-in.
Jose Mourinho made three changes as Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly replaced Jesse Lingard, Victor Lindelof and the injured Paul Pogba. In Jurgen Klopp’s only change, James Milner got the nod ahead of Jordan Henderson.
There was a stark improvement from Liverpool after the break. Van Dijk steered a header onto the roof of the United goal within four minutes of the restart before a combination of Chris Smalling and Young denied Salah from converting Roberto Firmino’s lofted pass.
The visitors had a strong penalty appeal declined on 57 minutes when Robertson’s drilled cross appeared to strike Antonio Valencia’s arm, but they were back in the game nine minutes later when Bailly clumsily turned Sadio Mane’s cross into his own net.
In a pulsating finale, substitute Georginio Wijnaldum’s rasping 18-yard drive deflected inches wide, a last-gasp Bailly tackle halted a dangerous Mane run into the area and, into the sixth-minute of stoppage time, Salah blazed a volley over as Liverpool’s hopes of a comeback failed to materialise.
- Man Utd defeated Liverpool for the 68th time in league competition; this is the most defeats that Liverpool have suffered against a single side.
- Liverpool have won only one of their seven Premier League games on the weekends immediately following playing a Champions League game this season (W1 D4 L2).
- Man Utd have won 20 of their 30 Premier League games this season, already surpassing their totals in both 2016-17 (18) and 2015-16 (19) and equalling their number of league wins in 2014-15 (20).
- Only Man Utd (67) have profited from more own goals in the Premier League than Liverpool (58).
- Marcus Rashford has scored seven of his 16 Premier League goals against teams in the ‘big six’ (44%).
- Marcus Rashford has scored with 29% of his shots in the Premier League against ‘big six’ clubs, compared to a 10% ratio against the other teams.
- Romelu Lukaku now has seven Premier League assists this season; more than he has in any previous campaign.
Jose Mourinho: “Is it a perfect result? Yes. Three points is very important. I wouldn’t go so far as saying it was a perfect performance. In the first half, the game gave us the opportunity to be direct, fast and score goals, more than we did. A third goal from Mata would’ve been fantastic.”
Jurgen Klopp: “Nobody could have had an argument if it was a draw. But the situations around the two goals cannot happen. They scored twice and it was a big influence, it was a big boost for them and a big blow for us. We needed luck but we cannot say we do not deserve the defeat because of the two goals.”
It’s been a difficult few months for Marcus Rashford. Starts in Jose Mourinho’s preferred starting line-ups have been at a premium and, as a result, goals have been hard to come by. But the local lad answered some of his critics and gave his manager food for thought with a match-winning performance against his club’s fiercest rivals.
United face a season-defining week as Sevilla and Brighton travel to Old Trafford in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively. Liverpool look to return to winning ways when they host Watford in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.
date: 10 March 2018 id: 24097 source: