Match report and highlights as Liverpool extend their lead at the top by beating Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield
Monday 20 January 2020 11:20, UK
Virgil van Dijk's header helped Liverpool on their way to a 2-0 win over Manchester United at Anfield as they extended their lead at the top to 16 points.
Jurgen Klopp's side had two further goals ruled out before the interval and upped the intensity again in the second half before Mohamed Salah's goal added gloss to the win late on.
The failure to find the second goal until stoppage time made for a nervy finale and United had their moments in the second half with Anthony Martial going close, but there was to be no equaliser.
United do remain the only team to take points off Liverpool this season but - without the injured Marcus Rashford - there was to be no repeat here for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (7), Henderson (8), Wijnaldum (8), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Salah (7), Firmino (7), Mane (6).
Subs: Lallana (6), Fabinho (6), Origi (6).
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Wan-Bissaka (4), Lindelof (6), Maguire (5), Shaw (7), Williams (5), Fred (7), Matic (4), Pereira (6), Martial (6), James (6).
Subs: Mata (6), Greenwood (6), Dalot (6).
Man of the match: Jordan Henderson.
United had made a promising start too but their early endeavour was soon undermined when they conceded from a corner for the eighth time in the Premier League this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery from the right found the head of Van Dijk, who had the run on Brandon Williams and Harry Maguire to power the ball beyond David de Gea.
The clash between goalscorer and goalkeeper was reprised amid some controversy midway through the first half when Liverpool thought they had doubled their advantaged.
De Gea went up for a high ball after Salah had misdirected his shot, but the United goalkeeper dropped the ball inside the six-yard box under pressure from Van Dijk.
Sadio Mane gathered possession and fed Roberto Firmino, who curled the ball beautifully into the corner only for a VAR review to disallow it for Van Dijk's robust challenge.
By this point, United's flow of counter-attacks were beginning to dry up as the Anfield crowd pushed their team on and the Liverpool advances began to overwhelm the away side.
Georginio Wijnaldum also thought he had found the second goal after latching onto Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's measured through-ball but was correctly adjudged to be just offside.
Andreas Pereira almost had United level against the run of play but he was stretching to reach Aaron Wan-Bissaka's centre and could only divert the ball wide of the post.
At the other end, Mane had a wonderful opportunity to extend Liverpool's lead but his left-footed effort when racing onto Salah's pass was kept out by the right boot of De Gea.
Liverpool came out with even greater intent in the second half and Salah should have scored from Robertson's left-wing cross but could not get the right contact on the ball.
Jordan Henderson then produced a brilliant left-footed shot that was superbly tipped onto the post by De Gea as Liverpool continued to sustain attack after attack.
Jurgen Klopp named the same Liverpool team that beat Tottenham last time out with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain retaining his place in midfield. The interesting changes were on the bench where Fabinho returned to the squad for the first time since November, while Joel Matip was fit enough to make the squad for the first time since October.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stuck with a back four rather than reverting to the back five that secured a point against Liverpool at Anfield – but with a twist. Brandon Williams was pushed further forwards with Luke Shaw coming in at left-back. The big loss was that of the scorer from that first meeting with Marcus Rashford ruled out due to a back complaint.
There was a warning for Liverpool when Fred fired wide and the big chance for United came when Martial blazed over from a good position just before the hour mark.
With the result in the balance, United pushed hard to level things up with Juan Mata and Mason Greenwood being introduced but the clear-cut opening never arrived.
Instead, it was Salah who had the final say, scoring his first goal against Manchester United after racing onto Alisson's clearance up the field and slotting the ball beyond De Gea.
United and Solskjaer will take heart in a spirited effort. For Liverpool and Klopp, they will take the win and the points that edge them that little bit closer to that long-awaited Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp: "Big relief. I was really happy with 85 to 90 per cent of the game. It was brilliant. We dominated the game. I didn't like the last ten minutes of the first half but I have learned to take it because the energy level of the boys on the pitch is incredible.
"After half-time, we came out and should have decided the game in that point. United obviously has quality and they ended up putting us under some pressure, playing some football, and we had to defend. We didn't use our possession well enough and the game stays open.
"Everybody should celebrate the situation apart from us. Nothing has changed. We have exactly the same situation, plus three points. It is great, wonderful, unbelievable, but nothing has changed. I will tell you when it feels different. So far, it feels exactly the same."
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "You are never happy when you lose a game. First goal, it's disappointing to concede from a set piece. We don't deal with that well enough. I thought we weathered the storm well at the start of the second half and for the last half an hour we were excellent.
"We had the majority of the possession in the second half, pushed them back and created chances. Big chances. We created the pressure. I think they looked nervy. Then after, we send everyone up to get that equaliser and they get that goal."
The games keep coming for these two teams. Liverpool are back in Premier League action against Wolves at Molineux on Thursday before facing Shrewsbury away in the FA Cup on Sunday. Their game in hand in the Premier League also comes away from home and will be played on January 29 against West Ham at the London Stadium.
Manchester United also have three more games to play before January is through - in three different competitions. There is home game against Burnley at Old Trafford on Wednesday before an FA Cup fourth round clash against either Tranmere or Watford next weekend. The second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City is on January 29.