Liverpool recorded their biggest ever win against Manchester United by thrashing their arch-rivals 7-0 at Anfield.
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Goals from Darwin Nunes (2), Cody Gakpo (2), Mohamed Salah (2) and Roberto Firmino earned Liverpool three points clear of the top four, but they ended suggestions that third-placed United could still win. Premier League. The defeat means United have scored once in their last seven meetings with Liverpool and have not won at Anfield since Wayne Rooney’s winner in January 2016.
1. Liverpool edged closer to the top four with a convincing win over Manchester United
Sunday’s game at Anfield was must-see TV, with the Reds’ stunning 7-0 victory putting Jurgen Klopp’s side firmly on course for Champions League qualification.
A week after ending a six-year trophy drought by winning the Carabao Cup – a feat that has fueled talk of a top-four finish this season – United were humiliated by their biggest rivals at Anfield. Goals from Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunes and two from Mohamed Salah, plus a late strike from Roberto Firmino, lifted Klopp’s side to fifth, three points behind Tottenham, but cemented Liverpool’s status as favorites for fourth place in the game.
Ironically for United, they controlled most of the first half and squandered good chances until Gakpo put Liverpool ahead in the 43rd minute. From that point on, United collapsed – 3-0 up by the 50th minute – and they suffered an even bigger defeat than their painful results against Liverpool last season, where they lost 5-0 and 4-0.
United have scored just once in their last seven games at Anfield and haven’t won away to Liverpool since 2016. It was supposed to be the day they met their old rivals on equal footing for the first time in years, but it ended up being the same old story. Towards the end of the game, Liverpool fans showed the extent of their dominance by chanting “we want eight”.
Although the defeat does not affect United’s third-placed league position, the result is huge for Liverpool. Having looked lost to the top four, they now look poised to catch up with Tottenham and move above Antonio Conte’s side.
2. Ten Hag suffers from a rare tactical error
Erik Ten Hag has been praised for turning Manchester United around this season with his tactical awareness and decision-making from touch, but he made a costly tactical error at Anfield. Starting Marcus Rashford as the lone striker, Bruno Fernandes out wide on the left and Wout Wehorst, the No. 10, the United manager let Liverpool off the hook, allowing Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular to test defensive frailties.
Fernandes is a natural No.10 and the Portugal international believes this role is best suited to create opportunities for those behind him. But he lacks pace out wide, and his presence in that position led to one of Alexander-Arnold’s easiest games of the season. Had Rashford played out wide, it would have forced Alexander-Arnold to contend with someone running towards him and the spaces he often left behind.
Although Vehorst has played in this position before, by using the Dutch striker in this position, Ten Hag took Fernandez away from where he could be most impressive.
Besides, there was no logic in Ten Haag’s tactics. They made United less effective and gave Liverpool an unexpected bonus as they eased the home side’s defence. By the time Ten Hag changed their approach in the second half, it was too little too late as United fell 3-0 down at the stage and suffered an even bigger defeat.
Maybe the loss will work in Ten Haag’s favor after all. Some of his squad’s weaknesses have been exposed at Anfield – notably their lack of a proper centre-forward and a reliable right-back – so this could bring some realism back to United to counter the optimism of a new era at the club.
3. Gakpo and Nunes show that Liverpool have a bright future
Nunes and Gakpo have struggled to make an immediate impact at Liverpool since arriving this season, but their performance against United showed they have a bright future at Anfield.
Gakpo, 23, has scored four goals in his last six games for Liverpool and then found the back of the net in his first six weeks at the club after joining from PSV Eindhoven on January 1. Nunes, 23, has also scored four goals in his last four games for the club after suffering a difficult spell following his club-record £85m move from Benfica.
Both strikers are raw and yet to fulfill their potential, but they are clearly talented players who will be a big part of Liverpool’s future. Both are strong and determined to achieve a goal quickly, they sometimes make hasty decisions and miss good opportunities. But those rough edges are smoothed out with every game, and playing alongside one of the best strikers in the world, Mohamed Salah, seems to speed up that process.
Gakpo and Núñez are different players than those signed to replace Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, but don’t doubt that they will be equally successful for Liverpool in the coming years.
The best and worst performers
– Cody Steele, FW, Liverpool: The Liverpool striker has taken time to settle in at Anfield since his January arrival, but he was a match-winner against the team who tried to sign him last summer.
– Andy Robertson, DF, Liverpool: Great pass to Gakpo for Liverpool’s first goal. One of the few Liverpool players to maintain a level of consistency this season.
– Lisandro Martinez, DF, Man United: Despite the heavy defeat, Martinez was superb at the back for United and his awareness helped keep the scoreline down.
– Bruno Fernandes, MF, Manchester United: Erik Ten Haag was deployed on the left, but the role did not suit the United midfielder. Portugal have struggled since Christian Eriksen was sidelined with an injury in January.
– Diogo Dalot, DF, Man United: Caught up for Liverpool’s first goal that sparked United’s collapse. Has improved this season, but his level is not first choice, backup defender.
– Marcus Rashford, FW, Man United: Missed a great chance to put United ahead in the first half. Playing center instead of left didn’t help.
Highlights and highlights
It’s hard to know which goals were the best to cap the Reds’ excellent night at Anfield, but two quick goals early in the second half put the game beyond doubt and allowed them to score seven times. Nunes and Gakpo are becoming a two-way act…
Sunday was successful pic.twitter.com/YDoNwS9B9h
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 5, 2023
Finally, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one might be worth 7,000 words.
It happened fast! Nunes and Gakpo made the score 3:0!#MyPLTang pic.twitter.com/ncGV66vE4k
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 5, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
“You could see the energy levels today. It was a proper performance today.” — Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson
“We have to be humble. We’re not where we want to be, but hopefully this will give us a big boost.” On his goalscoring record: “It’s pretty special. I can’t lie. It’s always been on my mind since I got here. I’m going home with my family to celebrate with chamomile tea.” — Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah
“It was not our standards. We did not play as a team. It was not professional. Yes [I am angry]. Undoubtedly. I’m surprised, because I’ve seen the last weeks and months, this team is resilient and has a winning attitude. In the second half, we didn’t have the attitude to win at all. We didn’t follow the plan and we didn’t do our job. We didn’t follow up and it was really unprofessional. We have seen in the past that we can come back. After Brentford, after Manchester City. This is definitely a strong failure and is unacceptable. I am really disappointed and angry about this. This is a reality check. We must embrace this power.” — Man United manager Eric Ten Haag
“The first half was a little wild. But we scored a great goal, what a finish. … The second half started really well and the finish was really good. … It’s important that we really performed and all the guys came. Bobby goes out and scores. Diogo [Jota] could score a goal. All the best performances. It was perfect. Everyone needs to feel us, everyone needs to know that we are still around. That’s how we should be from now on.” — Jurgen Klopp, head coach of Liverpool
Key Stats (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information Research)
– Mohamed Salah: PL 129 goals for Liverpool, the most goals in the club’s history.
– Liverpool have beaten United 17-1 in their last eight matches at Anfield (all competitions).
– Manchester United have allowed seven goals in one game for the first time in Premier League history.
– David De Gea: conceded more than 7 goals in one game for the first time in his career (578 games played).
– The seven-goal defeat was Manchester United’s biggest defeat in the club’s history, the previous being 90 years ago (7-0 against Wolves in December 1931). They also lost 7-0 against Aston Villa in December 1930 and 7-0 against Blackburn in April 1926.
– Liverpool extended their home league unbeaten run against Manchester United to seven games, their longest since nine games in the First Division from 1970-79.
Liverpool: The Reds have a full week to prepare for their Premier League trip to Bournemouth, who they won 9-0 at Anfield on Saturday. After that, Klopp and Co will be hoping to produce similar magic in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Real Madrid (March 15). Whites In the first meeting in Anfield, they won 5:2.
Man United: Ten Haag will be hoping his team can shake off Sunday’s historic defeat with tough games ahead. They host Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie on Thursday, followed by a home league game with Southampton (March 12).