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    Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool Match Report


    Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United held off a spirited comeback by Liverpool to beat their North-West rivals for the first-time in six attempts.

    The 20-year-old, who had not started a match in the Premier League since Boxing Day, profited from Liverpool's inability to nullify their opponents' direct route to goal, with both chances stemming from David de Gea goal kicks.

    Romelu Lukaku beat Dejan Lovren to an aerial challenge in the 14th minute, which allowed Rashford to the chance to cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold before he duly curled the ball past Loris Karius with an emphatic finish from 10 yards out.

    Jurgen Klopp's side responded well to falling behind, with Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk both coming close to equalising for the visitors who were enjoying the lion's share of the possession.

    Firmino was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Antonio Valencia following Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's exquisite pass, while the ball struck van Dijk's shoulder from the resulting corner when a cleaner contact would surely have brought the visitors level.

    Liverpool were left rueing van Dijk's golden opportunity, however, a matter of seconds later as United doubled their lead, with another de Gea goal kick giving Lukaku the chance to outmuscle Lovren once again.

    It resulted in a chance for Juan Mata, who was initially denied by a van Dijk challenge but the ball fell invitingly for Rashford and the England striker produced another unerring finish into the bottom right-hand corner from 12 yards.

    United then almost scored a third shortly before half-time as a pinpoint cross by Alexis Sanchez found an unmarked Mata but the Spaniard's acrobatic volley whistled a yard wide of the far-post.

    Liverpool could have pulled a goal back shortly after the break when van Dijk headed over the bar from a Mohamed Salah corner, while referee Craig Pawson waved away appeals for a penalty after Andrew Robertson's cross struck the arm of Valencia.
     
    The visitors started the second-half with a much greater intensity and their positive attitude was rewarded after 66 minutes when Eric Bailly inadvertently miscued a Sadio Mane cross, with the ball squirming past de Gea at the near-post.

    Klopp's team had 68 per cent of the overall possession but they were unable to outwit a well-organised United defence for the remainder of the game despite having another penalty appeal turned down.

    Sadio Mane appeared to have beaten substitute Marouane Fellaini in a fight to win possession inside the penalty area before having the back of his leg clipped by the Belgian international with eight minutes remaining.

    Liverpool continued to hunt down the elusive equaliser until the final seconds of the game, with the usually prolific Salah firing into the stands behind the goal after the ball fell to him invitingly from a last-gasp corner.

    The victory kept Jose Mourinho's second-place side ahead of Liverpool in the table, with the gap between the two teams being extended to five points with eight matches of the season left remaining.

    United now switch their attentions to Tuesday's Champions League tie with Spanish side Sevilla, where they take a 0-0 scoreline from the first leg back to Old Trafford, with their next Premier League encounter not taking place until March 31.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, dropped to fourth in the table following Tottenham's 4-1 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, although The Reds still retain a four-point lead over fifth-place Chelsea in the battle for Champions League qualification.

    The club return to action on Saturday against 10th place Watford, with The Hornets almost assured of their Premier League survival having taken 10 points from new manager Javi Gracia's first six games in charge.
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    Item Reviewed: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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