Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho brilliance sees visitors progress
By Sam Drury at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 19/03/16 1:47pm
Liverpool progressed to the last eight of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw at rivals Manchester United gave them a 3-1 aggregate win.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Liverpool went into the game in a commanding position but Anthony Martial's first half penalty brought United right back into the tie.
However, a brilliant individual goal from Philippe Coutinho on the stroke of half-time gave them an all-important away goal and meant United needed three more to progress.
Louis van Gaal's side pushed for a way back into game at the start of the second period before running out of steam, allowing Liverpool to coast into the next round.
After an even start, it was the hosts who created the first opening as Martial's left wing cross found Jesse Lingard in space at the far post. The winger made good contact with the header but Simon Mignolet threw himself to his right to parry it away.
The resulting corner led to another opening for United. The initial delivery was only cleared to the edge of the box and when Chris Smalling headed it back into the danger area, it eventually fell to Juan Mata who sent his volley wide of the far post.
David de Gea, so impressive in the first leg, was then forced into action, producing a fine save low to his left from Coutinho's shot from the edge of the area.
It proved crucial as just two minutes later United were awarded a penalty when Nathaniel Clyne was adjudged to have tripped Martial inside the box. The Frenchman got to his feet and converted the penalty with aplomb to half the aggregate deficit.
Liverpool almost found an instant leveller as Daniel Sturridge curled a free-kick against the crossbar but buoyed by the goal United pushed for another to level to tie.
Marcus Rashford got in behind but his cutback from the byline was cleared with United players queuing up on the six yard line.
Liverpool dealt with the pressure though and had a glorious opportunity to equalise as the half drew to a close, Coutinho picking out Jordan Henderson free in the box only for the Liverpool skipper to fire over from 10 yards.
They were level on the stroke of half-time though as Coutinho produced a moment of magic. Running onto Emre Can's pass, the Brazilian burst away from Guillermo Varela, drove into the box and dinked the ball over De Gea and into the far corner.
Needing three goals to progress, United had little choice but to throw bodies forward after the break and kept Liverpool penned inside their own half for long spells. However, when the chances came they failed to take them - Rashford shooting wide, Fellaini heading straight at Mignolet and Martial blazing over.
United's need to attack left space for Liverpool to try and exploit on the break. Coutinho was again central when they did look most threatening, beating three United players before slipping in Sturridge who fired wildly off target with his weaker right foot.
As the half went on, Liverpool began to gain more control, gradually forcing United back. Coutinho could have had his second of the night after Can broke forward and backheeled the ball into his path but on this occasion the shot was straight at De Gea.
At the other end, Fellaini shot over after some good build-up play down the right before Coutinho forced De Gea into another save with a fierce effort from distance.
With United fans heading for the exits, their team looked beaten and the away end was gleeful as Liverpool saw out the remainder of the game with relative ease.