UEFA Europa League Round of 16 First Leg
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Date: Thursday, 10 March 2016
Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Manchester United suffered a 2-0 first leg defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool in a one-sided contest at Anfield.
Daniel Sturridge’s first half penalty did little to tell the story, with David De Gea making countless saves to keep United in the match.
However, Roberto Firmino sealed the game with less than 20 minutes to go, with United boasting just one shot on target in another hapless away display.
As early as 15 seconds, Rashford failed to control a Memphis cross when he would have had a sight at goal, with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson picking up a booking for a studs-up challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin.
Having seen Christian Benteke go to ground easily in Liverpool’s late win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, Nathaniel Clyne seemed to follow suit as Memphis tracked the run, but a penalty was given, with Sturridge tucking the spot-kick away despite De Gea getting a fingertip to the ball.
The busy De Gea then denied Philippe Coutinho from close range before holding a drilled effort from Henderson in the same move, with Sturridge also seeing an attempt blocked by the Spanish keeper.
A pitiful free-kick dropped well wide from Memphis as De Gea was called into action yet again, saving from Adam Lallana’s near post poke on the end of Firmino’s cross.
Marcos Rojo fired over without troubling, with Dejan Lovren and Marcus Rashford seeing yellow before half-time arrived at Anfield.
Simulation from Coutinho saw him booked after the break, with Schneiderlin’s tame shot from range held with ease.
Coutinho then had a venomous strike tipped over by De Gea, as Marouane Fellaini saw yellow for a foul on Clyne.
It was Clyne himself who was next to test De Gea, but the full-back’s drive was palmed away, with Henderson just off target with a measured attempt from Lallana’s pull back.
On as a half-time substitute, Michael Carrick, playing in the unfamiliar role of centre-halve, failed to clear his lines, allowing Lallana to square for Firmino, with the Brazilian slotting past De Gea for 2-0.
Returning from injury, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cross was headed wide by Fellaini, with full-time bringing an end to yet another miserable display from United, especially on the road.
With a mountain to claim, the return leg takes place at Old Trafford next Thursday at 8:05pm, but based on tonight, Liverpool have the capabilities to score at least one away goal that would all but end United’s European prospects.
Whilst Liverpool have a weekend off to prepare for the second leg, United take on West Ham United in an FA Cup quarter-final this Sunday, with a 4pm kick-off at Old Trafford.
Manchester United: De Gea; Varela, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin (Schweinsteiger 79), Fellaini; Memphis, Mata (Herrera 79), Martial; Rashford (Carrick 46).
Subs: Romero, Darmian, Riley, Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Weir, Herrera.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Henderson; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino (Origi 84); Sturridge (Allen 64).
Subs: Ward, Toure, Smith, Allen, Origi, Ojo, Benteke.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp