Report and highlights as Liverpool outplayed Manchester United at Anfield with Thiago Alcantara starring and Jurgen Klopp's front three highlighting the gulf in class between the two teams; Liverpool two points clear at the top; United remain three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham
Wednesday 20 April 2022 10:22, UK
Liverpool moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a dominant 4-0 win over Manchester United at Anfield.
The trio of Luis Diaz, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane scored the first three goals, two of them in the first 22 minutes, in an emphatic performance to which United simply had no answer.
And Salah had the final say, set up by Diogo Jota this time, with his second of the night to cap it off as Liverpool added a four-goal win to their five-goal beating of United in October.
Ralf Rangnick's cautious five-man defence seemed designed to keep things tighter this time but United were overwhelmed from the outset, missing the chance to press their claims for fourth.
Liverpool Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Henderson (7), Fabinho (7), Thiago (8), Salah (9), Mane (8), Diaz (8).
Subs: Jota (7), Keita (n/a), Milner (n/a).
Man Utd: De Gea (5), Wan-Bissaka (4), Lindelof (3), Maguire (3), Dalot (4), Jones (4), Pogba (n/a), Matic (4), Elanga (6), Fernandes (4), Rashford (4).
Subs: Lingard (5), Sancho (6), Hannibal (n/a).
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah.
The sad news that Cristiano Ronaldo would be absent following the loss of his newborn son was marked with a well-observed round of applause after seven minutes.
That touching moment aside, Jurgen Klopp's side did their job ruthlessly, dismantling United in a high-tempo game - conducted expertly by Thiago - that was too much for the visitors.
Manchester City can restore their advantage with victory over Brighton on Wednesday but Liverpool's momentum continues. In this form, talk of the quadruple is not going away.
An expectant Anfield did not have long to wait for the breakthrough, Sadio Mane putting Salah away down the right and his cross finding Diaz who converted from close range.
Paul Pogba trudged off injured soon after and the second came before the midpoint of the first half - Mane the provider with a sumptuous pass for Salah to side-foot home.
The atmosphere was raucous by that stage, only the offside flag denying Diaz another, only the half-time whistle providing United some respite.
Jurgen Klopp made only two changes to the Liverpool team that beat Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final with Joel Matip replacing Ibrahima Konate, while Jordan Henderson was restored in favour of Naby Keita.
Ralf Rangnick made four changes to the Manchester United team that beat Norwich with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones coming in. Alex Telles, Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo dropped out.
Phil Jones, making only his second start of the season, was withdrawn in favour of Jadon Sancho at the break as Rangnick abandoned the back five, and United improved.
Alisson had to make a fine double save from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga just after the hour mark - the assistant eventually put the flag up but the goal would have stood.
Any hope of a comeback was cut short, however, when Victor Lindelof's pass was intercepted by Andy Robertson, he fed Diaz who set up Mane to stroke the ball into the corner of the net.
At that stage, the front three had all scored and assisted a goal, but it was Salah who completed the rout, Robertson again winning back possession in the build-up.
The Egyptian was too good for De Gea. Liverpool were far too good for United.
"I don't expect us for 95 minutes to be completely in charge of the game, I think we were for 70 minutes. They changed at half-time the formation, so their high press was different. Our first decision was passing the ball in and around the six-yard box which ended up with a corner for them.
"First half we were really in charge of the game and you wish of course we pick up from there, but it's a 15-minute break and we needed 10 to 15 minutes more to be ourselves again. We controlled the game again, scored wonderful goals and won the game.
"I thought our counter-press was second to none, it was unbelievable how we won the ball back. With the speed and desire the boys showed tonight that's how we scored the first goal. A really good game and wonderful goals, everybody is happy."
"We have to be critical of ourselves, because what we played in the first 45 minutes was not what we wanted to see, what we wanted to play.
"I don't think our performance had anything to do with formation. Being 1-0 affected our confidence. We did not dare to attack them, we looked afraid to be outplayed.
"We changed from a back five to a back four again and I think the first 25 mins of the second half was a lot better but still in that moment we didn't score.
"I don't think we have checked out, they are just better than us. They have 25 Formula One racing cars in their squad.
"I don't think it makes sense to speculate about our chances of making the top four after a performance like today.
"There will be a rebuild for sure but that does not help us when we still have five games to play. It is extremely embarrassing for me as a coach to have press conferences like this one.
"If you analyse the situation it is not difficult to analyse. For me, it is clear there will be six, seven, eight, maybe ten new players. Before you sign those players you need to be aware how you want to play."
Liverpool's next assignment comes in the Premier League where they will face Merseyside rivals Everton, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.
Up next for Manchester United is a trip to the Emirates Stadium to face top-four rivals Arsenal; kick-off 12.30pm.