Liverpool defeat Manchester United (c) Liverpool Twitter

3 talking points as Liverpool defeat Manchester United at Old Trafford

Liverpool come from behind to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford to reignite top four hopes and stake their claim for CL football.

Liverpool came from behind and survived a late onslaught to snatch a vital three points against Manchester United on Thursday to keep their top-four hopes alive. Bruno Fernandes helped fire United into an early lead when his shot towards goal was inadvertently turned in by Nathaniel Phillips.

The visitors rallied though and managed to produce a stunning comeback. First United failed to clear from a corner with the ball eventually falling to Phillips, whose shot towards goal was turned in by a magnificent backheel from Diogo Jota.

Then on the stroke of half-time Liverpool got their noses in front, as Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s whipped free-kick was met by  Roberto Firmino charging in at the far post. Firmino then bagged his brace straight after the break – again off the back of good work by Alexander-Arnold – reacting to a rebound from the full-back’s shot to volley past Dean Henderson.

Any hopes Liverpool had of cruising to victory from there though were dashed when Marcus Rashford reduced the deficit before United threw everything at their rivals. But the hosts couldn’t find another breakthrough, as their pressure was eventually punished as Mohamed Salah scored on the break. For a game that has so often failed to deliver in terms of entertainment value, this one more than lived up to its billing.
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Phillips was involved in pretty much all the first-half talking points. He scored an own goal to get things going, deflecting Bruno Fernandes’ shot past Alisson with the goal eventually being awarded to the Portuguese. He won a penalty which was then overturned and then went to provide the assist for Jota’s equalizer.

He finished the game having won four aerial duels and having made six clearances, including one off the line. Regardless of what people think Phillips’ level will be after leaving Liverpool, he’s settled into this team when the club desperately needed him to and done an admirable job.
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Defending isn’t exactly the Frenchman’s strong point, but his marking just moments before half-time was non-existent. He let Firmino have a clear run at goal without any disruption or attempt to block him off, and seemingly any awareness that the striker was behind him in the first place.

The fact Pogba gave away the free-kick for a petulant foul doesn’t look too favourably on him either. It’s not the first time his nonchalance has cost United, and it won’t be the last.
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Just the five key passes for Alexander-Arnold in this game, including an assist for the second goal and effectively an assist for the third as his shot, was too powerful for Dean Henderson to handle. The right-back had more touches of the ball than any other player on either side and his performance was reminiscent of those standout displays in previous seasons.

His passing range and accuracy was back, even though this won’t be reflected in the pass success stats (68%), as these are balls into spaces rather than always directly to teammates. But the ones that did land directly on the feet of teammates stood out, and he was duly named Man of the Match by Sky Sports.