Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 12 September 2015
Kick-off: 17:30 BST
Manchester United recorded a much-deserved 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams.
Old Trafford was simply bouncing at the final whistle, in a game that comes off the back September’s international break, and two negative results in the Premier League.
After a poor first half in terms of action, the second half took off, with Daley Blind’s wonderful strike and Ander Herrera’s penalty giving United a two goal cushion.
Christian Benteke’s spectacular acrobat goal attempted to spoil the party, as the visitors searched for an unlikely point late on, but less than two minutes later, substitute Anthony Martial, the deadline day signing from AS Monaco, produced a moment of individual brilliance, to wrap up the three points.
In a half to forget, Juan Mata intercepted some sloppy Liverpool passing around their own penalty area, but as the ball fell to Marouane Fellaini, he blazed the ball over the bar.
Michael Carrick played a sublime pass over the top of the stubborn Liverpool backline, and Matteo Darmian nodded the ball in front of himself and pulled it back, only for it to just fall behind Herrera before Fellaini failed to bring it under control.
A positive run from Memphis saw the ball deflect behind for a corner before a later move saw his cross miss Herrera, and Fellaini’s poor touch saw any chance disappear.
Lucas, who had three bookable fouls throughout the first half, escaped punishment from referee Michael Oliver, as Herrera’s attempted pass to play in Mata was cut out, as a drab first half drew to a close.
Ashley Young replaced Memphis at half-time, and boy did he make an impact.
First, he saw a shot blocked within the opening minute after the restart, before winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, a foul that saw Nathaniel Clyne booked.
Young’s dummy allowed Mata to pull the ball back, and on hand was Blind to fire the ball into the top corner, a goal that had Old Trafford on their feet and sparked an incredible atmosphere which seemed to spur United on.
Young was at it again, but a deflected shot was held before Dejan Lovren’s headed knock down allowed Danny Ings to control and volley his effort into the ground, only for the returning David De Gea to tip the ball behind.
Lovren was then the culprit, fouling Fellaini, but Young’s free-kick fell over the bar.
James Milner’s corner at the other end was flicked on Martin Skrtel and the ball hit Ings, but Blind was able to clear off the line, as Roberto Firmino failed to direct the loose ball goalwards.
Carrick, who has started every game that United have won this season, played in Herrera on the right-hand side of the box, only for Joe Gomez to slide in and take him out.
Herrera dually obliged to fire home the penalty into the roof of the net, to put United in the driving seat.
Milner fired a free-kick over the bar before his cross was headed over by Benteke.
Substitute Jordon Ibe cut onto his weaker left foot but forced De Gea into a brilliant save, and it was Ibe who supplied Liverpool’s goal.
His cross from the right was headed clear by Blind, only for Benteke to go unchallenged and produce a moment of pure quality, executing his overhead kick to precision.
Game on at the Theatre of Dreams, with that goal surely impossible to top in terms of quality, but cue Martial.
The impressive and calm Bastian Schweinsteiger played the ball out wide to Young, who played it on to Martial, lingering on the left-hand touchline; he then ran at the Liverpool defence, beating Skrtel on his way through, and finishing expertly into the far corner, to send Old Trafford into euphoria.
United held out for a deserved victory, with Martial marking a debut to remember in front of the Stretford End with a superb solo goal.
Exactly five months to the day since the 4-2 home win over Manchester City, Louis van Gaal’s side scored more than twice in a league game for the first time since that match, despite having captain Wayne Rooney sidelined due to a hamstring problem.
The Champions League returns on Tuesday, with United making the short trip over to the Netherlands, where they will take on PSV Eindhoven, on the back of a morale-boosting victory over their biggest rivals.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick (Schneiderlin 72), Schweinsteiger; Mata (Martial 65), Herrera, Memphis (Young 46); Fellaini.
Subs: Romero, Rojo, McNair, Young, Valencia, Schneiderlin, Martial.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez; Lucas (Moreno 88), Can; Milner, Firmino (Ibe 65); Ings (Origi 74), Benteke.
Subs: Bogdan, Toure, Sakho, Moreno, Origi, Rossiter, Ibe.
Manager: Brendan Rodgers