Manchester United has heaped both piles of misery onto Liverpool and added pressure onto its manager, Brendan Rodgers. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of bragging rights.
Liverpool fell to Manchester United by a score of 3-1 on Saturday at Old Trafford. The loss was Liverpool’s second in a row, and its performance was worse than any other this season. That’s not the type of outing the Reds hoped for against their biggest rival in a game billed as one neither Rodgers nor his counterpart Louis van Gaal could afford to lose. But the truth can, and often does, hurt.
Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial scored second-half goals for Manchester United. Christian Benteke scored one of the most spectacular consolation goals in history with five minutes remaining, but his strike was the lone moment of quality Liverpool fans enjoyed on this nightmare visit to Old Trafford.
Liverpool now has lost three consecutive games against Manchester United. The balance of power remains firmly in Manchester following the Red Devils’ latest victory over the Reds, and van Gaal now has beaten Rodgers in all four games in which they’ve matched wits.
Manchester United and Liverpool both have ambitions of finishing in the top four and mounting improbable challenges for the Premier League title. These streaks suggest Manchester United’s slow growth under van Gaal continues. Where Liverpool currently stands and is headed under Rodgers remains in question, but the Reds’ performances aren’t meeting expectations.
Neither Liverpool supporters nor Manchester United fans will want to watch the first half ever again. The opening period featured some of the most dreadful soccer the Premier League has produced this season. Etta James isn’t alone in this instance. We’d rather go blind than to watch 45 more minutes of such futility from both sides.
Manchester United took the song literally in opening the scoring four minutes into the second half. Halftime substitute Ashley Young made an immediate impact by winning a free kick near the corner of Liverpool’s penalty area. The Red Devils then profited from a fine set-piece routine in which Mata slid the ball toward the top of the area for Blind, who dispatched it with authority from 18 yards out.
Liverpool needed 10 more minutes to threaten Manchester United. When the Reds finally did mount attacks, restored goalkeeper David De Gea repelled their best efforts. Danny Ings and Jordon Ibe are the first victim’s of De Gea’s shot-stopping prowesss this season. They won’t be the last.
Herrara effectively sealed the result in the 70th minute when Joe Gomez’s heavy and clumsy challenge earned the United midfielder a penalty kick. Herrera thumped his shot past Simon Mignolet from the spot.
Benteke’s wonder-goal momentarily brought hope to the hearts of Liverpool fans, but Martial swept away those good feelings with an instant reply. De Gea couldn’t have done anything to stop Benteke’s shot. Martin Skrtel could have done plenty to prevent Martial from scoring.
Liverpool ultimately suffered the defeat because it was inferior to Manchester United in terms of technical quality and mental strength. Manchester United counts neither of those aspects among its strengths and was alarmingly average, at best, in the latest installment of English soccer’s biggest game. Liverpool was far below the hosts’ standard from start to finish, except for that one moment from Benteke.
Thumbnail photo via James Milner tries to tackle the ball away from Luke Shaw.
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