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Manchester United 3, Liverpool 1: Poor Second Half Performance Leads to Loss

Liverpool started well but conceded three times in the second half, leaving them second-best on the night in a 3-1 loss that ends their US tour.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Manchester United 3: Rooney 55', Mata 57', Lingard 88'
Liverpool 1: Gerrard (pen.) 14'

Despite the short rest and fact that none of this really matters--in this case the match, but existentially speaking, anything--Brendan Rodgers went with a solid eleven, with Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling flanking Rickie Lambert, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson in the midfield with Steven Gerrard, and Martin Kelly, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, and Glen Johnson across the back in front of Simon Mignolet in goal. Jose Enrique was left out of the squad entirely, as were the names we expected, but otherwise it was a Liverpool squad that, accounting for injuries, was near full-strength.

Talking tactics too much would be overkill, but it was clear that Rodgers set Liverpool up with the dial closer to regular season intensity, with pressing and immediate pressure the name of the game throughout. United had an early chance from an Ashley Young cross, which required a scrambled clearance by Sakho after Javier Hernandez got in behind Johnson, but otherwise the first 45 minutes were all about Liverpool. Steven Gerrard's penalty in the 15th minute--rightfully earned by the impressive Sterling--gave Rodgers' side their reward, and they very well should have had another spot-kick were it not for some confusing decision-making by the head referee.

No changes at the break for Rodgers, but United found themselves in front just over ten minutes after the restart. A well-taken Wayne Rooney goal drew them level, and a deflected shot from Juan Mata beat Simon Mignolet to put them in front. Jesse Lingard put the match to bed in the 88th minute, as he rifled in a low drive from outside the area after Shinji Kagawa couldn't control Ashley Young's cross. Rodgers gave second-half appearances to Emre Can, Jordon Ibe, Lucas, Kris Peterson, and Kolo Toure, but Liverpool couldn't find the net as they ended their US tour with a loss.

A mixed bag overall; as mentioned, the first half was very good, but two sloppy goals conceded in quick succession with a stuttering second-half attack left Liverpool playing catch-up until Lingard settled the match. Some good individual performances, especially from Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling in the second half, some okay displays, and one--from Glen Johnson--that was as bad as it's been this preseason. There's getting up to match fitness and then there's whatever he was doing, which made an awfully good argument for giving Jon Flanagan and Javier Manquillo (and maybe even Martin Kelly) a chance to battle it out.

Back to Merseyside now, and Dortmund next weekend to finish preseason preparations. Areas of weakness will hopefully be addressed in the next two weeks, as Southampton's visit and the new Premier League season are just around the corner.

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