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    Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool Match Report

    An equaliser six minutes from time by Zlatan Ibrahimovic stretched Manchester United's unbeaten run to 16 games and condemned Liverpool to lose further ground on leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

    James Milner's 27th minute penalty looked set to earn the visitors only a sixth Premier League win at Old Trafford but their inability to extend the lead ultimately proved costly as United upped the pressure in the closing minutes.

    In an exciting game, albeit one that was often lacking in quality, it was Liverpool who controlled most of the match but United who missed the greater number of clear-cut opportunities.

    Simon Mignolet was Liverpool's hero with two excellent first-half saves, but The Reds eventually succumbed to the more direct route to goal that United employed the longer the match progressed.

    Manchester United went into the game hoping to extend their winning run to 10 successive matches in all competitions and were boosted by the return of prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who missed Tuesday night's win over Hull City due to illness.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, were aiming to bounce back after three games without a win but chose not to give Philippe Coutinho a first start since November, while Trent Alexander-Arnold was handed his full Premier League debut.

    Despite a strong start to the match by the away side, it was United who came closest to scoring in the first 25 minutes with Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba missing good chances that would have given the 20-time league champions an early lead.

    Anthony Martial nearly picked out Ibrahimovic with a dinked ball to the back post, which the stretching Swede was neither able to bring down or turn home from the tightest of angles.

    Minutes later, Ibrahimovic charged down Simon Mignolet following Dejan Lovren's underhit back-pass but the former Paris Saint-Germain striker looked on as the ball landed agonisingly onto the roof of the net.

    The home side's best chance of the first-half, however, fell to record-signing Paul Pogba, who dragged an effort wide from just inside the penalty area after being played in by Henrikh Mkhitaryan's beautifully-weighted through-ball.

    Liverpool also nearly profited from a defensive error when Phil Jones was dispossessed by Roberto Firmino, but Marcos Rojo was on hand to prevent the Brazilian from finding Adam Lallana.

    Jurgen Klopp's team, however, did capitalise on some uncharacteristic defending by their opponents from the resulting corner, when Paul Pogba inexplicably handled as he challenged Lovren for the ball to concede a penalty.

    James Milner coolly slotted the ball past David De Gea, who correctly guessed where it was heading but was unable to stop the former England international from scoring his sixth spot-kick of the season.

    United responded well to falling a goal behind as they increased their intensity late in the first-half but were unable to find away past an inspired Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

    The Red Devils were unfortunate not to have been awarded a spot-kick themselves, firstly when Pogba was wrestled to the ground by Jordan Henderson and subsequently when Divock Origi caught Ander Herrera just inches outside the penalty area.

    From the resulting free-kick, Mignolet made the first of his two superb saves when he dived low to his right to stop Ibrahimovic's drilled effort from finding the bottom left-hand corner.

    Just minutes before half-time, Mkhitaryan was cleverly found by Herrera's disguised through-ball but the Armenian's left-footed strike from five yards was parried once again by a resurgent Mignolet.

    Jose Mourinho's answer at half-time to his team falling a goal behind was to bring on Wayne Rooney for Michael Carrick, with the United captain seeking a record-breaking 250th goal to move clear of Sir Bobby Charlton as the club's all-time leading goalscorer.

    The Red Devils continues to create chances early in the second-half, with Ibrahimovic's pass finding Mkhitaryan in acres of space but the midfielder's ball across the six-yard box was inches away from the incoming Martial.

    Liverpool appeared to be achieving a tighter grip on the match upon the introduction of Philippe Coutinho on the hour-mark with the Brazilian providing a masterclass in keeping possession as Liverpool looked to seal the win with a second goal.

    Coutinho's first contribution was picking out an overlapping Firmino with a cleverly-disguised pass but the former Hoffenheim forward's subsequent strike was comfortably saved by De Gea.

    As Liverpool started to control the game and looked increasingly likely to score, United changed tact and opted for a more direct approach which ultimately offered them a route back into the match.

    Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia played an integral part in United's fightback, with Rooney picking out Marouane Fellaini with a lofted cross to the back-post from which the Belgian midfielder headed against the outside of the post.

    As the ball rebounded back into play, Valencia's low cross picked out Ibrahimovic who managed to loop a stooping header over Mignolet to earn the home side a share of the spoils.

    It was the striker's 19th goal of the season in all competitions and the first time he had scored against Liverpool having failed to find the net in five previous attempts.

    The Red Devils, spurred on by an expectant crowd, upped the pressure once again as they tried to find that elusive winner but it was their opponents who came closest to retaking the lead through Georginio Wijnaldum.

    The Dutch midfielder's overlapping run was spotted by Emre Can in the final minute but his side-footed finish from 12 yards was weak and comfortably saved by a relieved De Gea.

    A draw was a fair result, but ultimately one that neither side could afford as Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points, while both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal also recorded emphatic victories.

    Jose Mourinho will be the happier manager, given that his team were only six minutes away from defeat, but the result still leaves United four points outside the top four and 12 points behind Chelsea at the summit.

    Defeat would have been harsh on the home side, who edged the possession statistics despite being second best for periods of the game, and they would have taken all three points had it not been for the heroics of Mignolet.

    Both managers claimed a moral victory after the encounter, as Klopp was eager to point out that United resorted to "playing long balls in a wild game", while Mourinho surmised that "Liverpool were the team that defended."

    United, who remain in sixth place, return to action when they travel to the bet365 Stadium to play Stoke City on Saturday afternoon, just a couple of hours after Liverpool entertain relegation-threatened Swansea City in the lunchtime kick-off.
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    Item Reviewed: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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