Reds Knock United Out Of Europe
There were a few tentative moments for Liverpool on Thursday evening at Old Trafford but Klopp's side managed to weather a relatively ineffective storm from Manchester United and walked away victorious thanks to a stunning goal from Philippe Coutinho. United's first half penalty gave the home side a much needed boost but a lack in quality ensured they were never fully back in the tie.
Image via RTE Soccer
Despite going into this game with a 2-0 lead it was always going to be a nervy affair, I predicted as many also did that United would find a much needed goal and once they did the pressure would be on Liverpool. The penalty awarded at 32 minutes was definitely a spot kick after a challenge from Clyne and Martial converted easily to give his side a much desired lead. The downside for United of course was that while the pressure had now been ramped up, for Liverpool, the same task remained, just find a goal.
The first half at points was horrible to watch United missed some superb chances to pull the tie level but the Reds also failed to capitalise on some great opportunities in front of goal. That all changed however right on the stroke of half time. Philippe Coutinho is a magical player, even most neutrals would agree but he can go missing in games from time to time then the following week he'll have an absolute stormer. This was one of those weeks.
An audacious and confident solo goal began with a diagonal weave into the box, screaming for him to cross the ball and assuming he'd fluffed his chance, I didn't even realise he'd chipped de Gea and beautifully dinked home for Liverpool. When the ball hit the net I thought it had travelled behind goal somehow. It was a stunning effort and just what Jürgen Klopp's side needed.
From here on out it was game over for United, there was no way they were going to find four goals, no way. That Coutinho chance had knocked the stuffing out of them and thanks to a brilliant defensive performance it was clear they wouldn't be vastly troubling the back four.
On that note I'd like to bring up Mamadou Sakho. I've often criticised him perhaps somewhat unfairly, to be honest it's usually just down to clumsiness or something that can be amended with time and while I'm still not quite ready to call him a world beater he was absolutely solid last night. I cannot fault his performance at all, as many of you know I've always had a soft spot for defenders and some of the challenges he was putting in last night were retro in fashion. Full on, no nonsense, just what I love. I look forward to keeping a close eye on him going forward.
So that was that, with the help of a glorious solo goal, Liverpool knocked United out of Europe and on a scale of Paul Scholes to Steve McManaman I would say Kopites all over are feeling pretty Macca this morning!!!