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Manchester United 2, Liverpool 4 - Match Recap: Reds Keep Champions League Hopes Alive

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Liverpool’s late-season charge for Champions League qualification remains on with a big, big win at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images

Manchester United 2 - 4 Liverpool

United: Phillips (OG) 10’, Rashford 68’
Reds: Jota 34’, Firmino 45+3’, 47’, Salah 90’

Pre-Match

So, more bus shenanigans by the protesting United fans, but I guess the match is still on! Hurrah! You never want to go into Old Trafford for a “must win” game, but here we are. If Liverpool win out they technically control their destiny, as far as Champions League qualification is concerned. But four wins on the trot—and five, including the win against Southampton—would be by far their season’s best streak. Regardless of European hopes, it would be good to finally beat these on their patch. We owe them one.

First Half

Luck is swinging both for and against the Reds in the opening five minutes. First they’re unlucky that a ball-to-hand incident doesn’t end up putting a waiting Diogo Jota in on goal, and a moment later Alisson Becker gets away with murder when his errant pass finds Cavani, whose ensuing shot flashes just wide.

Goal. It’s an own goal for Nat Phillips, which I guess is slightly better than a goal for Bruno Fernandes. Slightly. As good as he’s been as an emergency stand in, there’s a reason why he almost certainly won’t be at Liverpool next season.

I guess the goal was officially given to Fernandes. But I’m not giving it to him.

PENALTY! Won by Nat Phillips of all people! GET IN!

VAR. Never mind. Obviously we can’t get the rub of the green at Old Trafford. Especially not this season.

GOAL! And this time it counts! A loose ball from a corner falls to...wait for it...Phillips, who definitely had a shot, but ended up assisting for Jota. Jota’s finish was absolutely brilliant, by the way, a cheeky little backheel flick.

GOAL!! Liverpool get one deep into stoppage time! Jota wins a free kick in a dangerous spot, and Trent Alexander-Arnold sends it toward a wide-open Bobby Firmino to nod home at the back post!

The goal was delicious for another reason: Bruno Fernandes went down in the opposite penalty area, faking an injury when he saw the counterattack was on. Liverpool played on until they were fouled. Then Fernandes, “requiring” medical attention, had to leave the pitch for the free kick.

Defensive error aside, Liverpool have played a really solid first half, and their lead is deserved. The visitors have more possession (54-46), more shots (10-6), more shots on target (4-1), and more big chances (3-1). Another half of that, please. Minus the defensive error, of course.

Second Half

GOAL!!! It’s a brace for Bobby! Some brilliant pressing gets the Reds on the front foot in the attacking third. Bobby plays Alexander-Arnold in, who decides to have a crack. It’s right at the keeper, but Firmino is there to pick up the scraps and fire it home.

Huge chance for Liverpool to make it 4-1 just before the hour mark. Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Firmino, and Jota all did everything right on the counterattack. Until Jota decided to hit the post instead of the back of the net.

Goal. United had been having a ten or so minute purple patch after a substitution, but Rashford’s goal was not the result of continuous pressure, but another soft one. It was a simple through ball to split the defenders, and Phillips just wasn’t fast enough to close him down.

United really have their tails up now, and Klopp really should think about a substitute of some variety. The home side had a couple of good efforts to equalize, including one that ended in a goal line clearance. On the other hand, we’re still creating chances, so this thing could end up 5-3 at this rate.

Klopp has seen enough, and with seventeen minutes of regulation time to play, he brings on Curtis Jones and Sadio Mané for Gini Wijnaldum and Jota. Come on lads, let’s score a 4th (or at least see this fucking thing out)!

Looks like it’s going to be a nervy few final minutes again. Both teams look punched out at this point, but obviously it just takes one moment to decide this thing in either direction.

GOAL!!!! It’s another final minute goal to clinch a win against Manchester United for Mo Salah! Curtis Jones played the Egyptian King through into acres of space, and he finished his 1-on-1 well!

Klopp immediately brings on his final sub: Neco Williams for Salah, which has to be a bit of a victory cigar more than anything at this point.

Final Thoughts

At times it was comical. At others, sublime. But a win at Old Trafford cannot be taken for granted under any circumstances, especially these circumstances. In the end, Liverpool did just enough to escape Manchester United with a rare three points, and they kept their Top 4 hopes alive for at least a few more days. And Kloppo finally got his win at Old Trafford. GET IN.