By Kiran Thakare
- Goals from Sturridge and Firmino
- De Gea saved United from a more severe beating
- One positive on the night was the return of Schweinsteiger
Manchester United were blown a way by Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of last 16 match in Europa League. The Red Devils now face a huge task of overturning a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of the tie at Old Trafford next week.
Louis Van Gaal made four changes in the starting eleven which suffered defeat at The Hawthorns at weekend. Guillermo Varela replaced Matteo Darmian in the back four. Morgan Schneiderlin partnered Maraoune Fellaini in the midfield replacing the duo of Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera.
Memphis Depay started in place of the suspended Jesse Lingard. There was a surprise inclusion of Bastian Schweinsteiger in the squad.
The home side started the game brightly as they were able to put pressure on Manchester United straightaway. United were not able to keep the possesion as Liverpool kept on moving the ball quickly.
The hosts were rewarded for their initial domination when they were handed a penalty in 20th minute of the game. Depay fouled Nathaniel Clyne just inside the box which allowed Liverpool to take lead in the tie. Daniel Sturridge slotted home despite a very good effort from David De Gea to reach the ball.
Liverpool grew in confidence after the goal and created numerous chances to double their lead. De Gea made two brilliant saves to deny Philipe Coutinho and Adam Lallana to score from close range. The Red Devils were not able to maintain their shape and kept on giving the ball as Liverpool kept on pressing high up the pitch.
Manchester United were lucky to concede only one goal in the first-half due De Gea’s heroics as he denied Daniel Sturridge again in the last few minutes of the half.
Van Gaal made a tactical change at half-time by reverting to back three which included Michael Carrick who came on for Marcus Rashford. United enjoyed a good spell of possession and created half chances.
Liverpool isolated Depay and Martial which nullified the visitors attack. The Red Devils were vulnerable on counter-attacks and they paid the price in 73rd minute when a poor clearance from Carrick was grabbed by Lallana who assisted an easy goal for Roberto Firmino.
The Red Devils couldn’t create any good chance after that only for Marouane Fellaini coming close with his head.
The Red Devils face an uphill task next week to nullify Liverpool’s two home goals. The performance was very poor from Manchester United but the the most disappointing aspect was the lack of passion,responsibility and intensity from the players in such a big game.
Manchester United: De Gea, Varela, Smalling, Blind, Schneiderlin (Schweinsteiger 79), Fellaini, Rashford (Carrick 46), Mata (Herrera 79), Memphis, Martial Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Darmian, Riley, Weir