Goals from Naby Keita, Diogo Jota and a Mohamed Salah hat-trick delivered a crushing victory for Liverpool at Old Trafford, as an error-strewn Manchester United performance was brutally punished by their fiercest rivals. Here's how the players performed...
Monday 25 October 2021 06:06, UK
You have to feel for the Manchester United goalkeeper, who was left badly exposed by his defence. He made a couple of good stops to keep out Firmino and Salah but could do little about the goals, with his team-mates allowing Liverpool to run riot. He can at least take satisfaction from his stunning save to stop Alexander-Arnold making it six… small crumbs of comfort! Who'd want to be in goal for United right now when the opposition are gifted so much time and space in the box?
Wan-Bissaka's limitations are well documented but his strength is in his tackling and stopping sides from advancing down his flank. There was none of that on show here. He managed just one tackle in the first half, didn't add to it in the second, and rushed out of position for the opener, which set off a disastrous chain reaction behind him.
How badly United need Raphael Varane back in their defence. Lindelof lost Jota for Liverpool's second goal, failing to stop the ball coming across him, and then effectively ushered the Portugal forward to roll in Salah for the fourth. Two terrible pieces of defending - but he wasn't even the worst performer in the backline.
A shocker from the man charged with leading this United defence. Maguire was caught in no-man's land for the first goal, got his positioning horribly wrong for the second before colliding with Shaw, and was beaten to the cross for the third by Salah. The captain is in terrible form himself but isn't organising those around him into any sort of shape either. Must take responsibility.
An absolute horrorshow. Left to fend for himself by his team-mates for Liverpool's opener but was indecisive for the second, getting in a right mix-up with Maguire and then failing to stop the cross from Alexander-Arnold. Lashed a shot just wide of the far post as he bid to make amends but was AWOL when Keita crossed for Liverpool's third. Took his frustration out on Alexander-Arnold and got a booking but then went missing again when Salah stroked in a fourth. Generously allowed the Liverpool ace to run in goal-side of him to score a hat-trick.
Fred was passed fit to start after a knock in midweek but offered his defence no protection during the disastrous first half as Liverpool's midfielders and attackers ripped United apart. He recorded a grand total of 0 tackles across the 90 minutes, while 'tame' and 'timid' sum up his attempt to dispossess Firmino in the build-up to the fourth, when he should have won the ball back for his side, although by then the game was already gone. A performance which will have his critics piling in.
Like his midfield partner Fred, McTominay didn't lay a finger on the Liverpool midfield in the first half, failing to make a single tackle. He must have been dizzy during the half-time break given how those white shirts whizzed the ball around him. He at least made one tackle in the second half and a header across goal should have been turned in by Cavani but he and Fred emphatically lost the midfield battle.
Not a game you want to be involved in as a 20-year-old. After being pushed to the fringes through the opening stages, Greenwood let off a typically sweet, swerving strike to land United's first shot on target on 29 minutes, but was sacrificed at half-time for Paul Pogba as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer searched for some kind of response. It didn't pay off.
Oh how different it all could have been had Fernandes been sharper in the opening moments of the match. He blew a fantastic chance on three minutes, lashing over when Greenwood teed him up, and United paid the price almost instantly when Liverpool took the lead. From then on it was one-way traffic and, while Fernandes created a handful of shooting chances for his team-mates, the big moment had been missed and he was taken off on 62 minutes.
There were half-chances and glimpses at goal but other than going narrowly wide with a long-range effort after the opener and prodding a half-volley awkwardly at Alisson, Rashford - who almost gifted the visitors a goal at 2-0 with a wayward pass - didn't trouble this Liverpool defence. Spent the majority of the second half sat on the bench with his hands on his head.
Ronaldo told Sky Sports before this match that he came to Manchester United to win. He'll now be coming to terms with the fact he won't be winning the Premier League this season with them. The Portuguese superstar looked disgusted throughout most of the match and took one opportunity to ease his frustration by booting the ball into Curtis Jones. That earned him a yellow and there were more ironic cheers from the Liverpool fans when a good chop inside and finish into the far corner was ruled out by VAR. One can only imagine how his post-match verdict in the dressing room will go.
After United's performance in the first 45 minutes, it would take something special for a sub to steal the spotlight of criticism off his team-mates. But Pogba just about managed it. The midfielder was sent on to try to provide some sort of control or threat or solution after United's terrible first half but within five minutes of the restart he was caught in possession in the centre circle, allowing Liverpool to break for the fifth. Within 15 he had been sent off for a reckless two-footed lunge at Keita.
Had only been given 57 minutes in the Premier League before today. Probably didn't relish the 28 he was given here, with his side already 5-0 down, and was largely ineffective.
Sent on for the final half an hour or so and showed the heart and running and desire that had been so badly lacking from his team-mates earlier in the game. Should have scored, too, but somehow scuffed McTominay's header across goal up onto the bar off a defender from barely three yards out.
The Liverpool goalkeeper was worked hardest by a swerving shot from Greenwood in the first half but otherwise it was a fairly routine evening for the Brazilian, who watched on as his team-mates produced a stunning destruction of their fiercest rivals.
A sweet victory for the Liverpool lad, who played his part with the low cross for Jota to score the visitors' second. That makes it three league assists this season but even a player not of his level would have relished the space he was afforded. He created a couple more chances, too, and would have capped it all with a fantastic drive but for De Gea's super save. Still, this is a Sunday he will treasure for a long time to come.
Liverpool's latest addition to their defence was a surprise inclusion at centre-back ahead of Joel Matip but was a commanding presence alongside the imperious Van Dijk, making more clearances than any player on the pitch. An impressive showing on the big stage from Konate, whose only blot - when he was beaten by Ronaldo in the box - was scrubbed out by VAR.
Contrast and compare. This may not have been Van Dijk's stiffest examination in Liverpool colours but the manner of composure and authority on show from Liverpool's defence was a damning indictment of the shambles going on at the other end.
Got a glare from Milner after his mis-placed pass sent Ronaldo charging into Liverpool's half. The visitors were let off but Milner wasn't, going off injured after turning to chase the wayward ball. However, Robertson was sharper later on when he darted a pass into Jota in the box in the build-up to the fourth goal and managed, fortuitously, to divert a close-range Cavani effort onto the bar.
How cruel that Keita's most joyous performance in a Liverpool shirt was ended so early in the second half by that terrible tackle from Pogba. Before then, the midfielder, who had scored a screamer in midweek, had a far simpler finish to put Liverpool into an early lead and was then gifted the ball on the edge of the United box to line up Alexander-Arnold for the cross for the second. He then added an assist before half-time, crossing for Salah to smack in the third. Keita dominated the centre of the pitch before Pogba took him out.
While United's captain must take responsibility for an appalling showing from his colleagues, Henderson should be praised for driving this Liverpool team to an intensity which allowed them to capitalise on every gift given to them. He summed that up himself when he robbed Pogba in midfield before playing an exquisite pass with the outside of his boot to set up Salah for his hat-trick.
Spare a thought for James Milner, who will have been gutted not to have spent more time on the pitch for this rout. The 35-year-old - who was primed to slide in Liverpool's second had Jota not been there - injured himself turning for a misplaced Robertson pass and was, frustratingly for him, forced off just 26 minutes into the match, with Curtis Jones taking his place.
The best player in the world right now? It certainly feels like it. Salah turned provider for Liverpool's opener, rolling Keita to set Liverpool on their way, but made sure he scored for a 10th game in a row by hammering home a return favour from the midfielder to make it 3-0. Salah is so ruthless and he gorged on more goals either side of half-time. You just can't keep him out. It would take an extraordinary effort to deny him the golden boot this season. Will those goals be enough to fire his side to the title too?
Firmino helped himself to a hat-trick last weekend but although he didn't get on the scoresheet this time round he was involved as Liverpool cut their rivals open, playing a part in the first and fourth goals with his trademark link play. May feel he could have done better with a shot saved by De Gea and a tricky right-foot finish from Keita's shot but sure he'll be content with his contribution on the bus back to Merseyside.
Mane has been in good form this season but, in Jota, Jurgen Klopp now has four top forwards to call upon as he sees fit. Today was Jota's turn and he rewarded his manager's faith in him with a brilliant stretch to turn in Liverpool's second and then crossed for Salah to score the fourth.
The youngster has been out with injury and was unexpectedly thrown into the action just 27 minutes in when Milner was forced off. Liverpool were already 2-0 up by then, which made things easier, but - despite feeling the force of Ronaldo's frustration when the United man booted a ball into his midriff - Jones looked after possession for his side and added to a midfield energy which overwhelmed their opponents.
Enjoyed a second half cameo and tried his luck with a wayward left-foot shot from distance with five minutes to go.
Given his recent form, Mane will surely have been disappointed to have missed out on this goal fest and perhaps even more frustrated he was only unleashed for the final 13 minutes. It certainly seemed that way as he tried to carve out chances to get on the scoresheet.
Manchester United now go to Tottenham on Saturday Night Football in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 5.30pm on October 30, while Liverpool go to Preston in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night at 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football, before hosting Brighton in the Premier League at 3pm on Saturday.