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See player ratings, match highlights, key statistics, as Manchester United win Liverpool 2-1 

See player ratings, match highlights, key statistics, as Manchester United win Liverpool 2-1 

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford powered Manchester United to a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday.

United looked like an inspired team after losing their first two matches, passing the ball around the park in the first 20 minutes to lead to Sancho’s emphatic opener. The intensity against an injured Liverpool team that has yet to win a game this season was hard to match as Erik ten Hag’s squad made it the half with a one-goal lead. They were hanging on by the skin of their teeth as Lisandro Martinez made a goal-line clearance to prevent a Bruno Fernandes own goal.

Not to get complacent, ten Hag subbed on Anthony Martial for Anthony Elanga at the half and it paid dividends. Martial assisted United’s second goal in the 51st minute. Mohamed Salah got one back after a shot attempt from Fabio Carvalho late but the game was out of reach. With the win, United finally kick-start the ten Hag era with three points in front of their home fans, who were treated to Casemiro’s presentation before the game, and their first goal from open play.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are left to pick up the pieces after three games without a win and a performance to forget at Old Trafford as they were outworked on every area of the pitch. Anthony Elanga rattling the post from the first whistle should’ve been a wake-up call for the Reds. Sancho was later given too much time in the box.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was targeted after getting a yellow card for taking down Elanga and appeared to look like someone who was thinking twice on just about every defensive challenge available. Without the protection of Fabinho and with Joe Gomez making his first start since April of 2022, the defense was in shambles.

Liverpool did have attacking chances to try to steal a point on the road. They rattled off 17 shots but with Roberto Firmino not offering a threat filling in for Darwin Nunez — who still has two more matches to serve in his headbutt suspension — things were too predictable and United managed to block everything in sight, leaving ten Hag rather upbeat in his postgame interview overseas.

“We can talk about technical, but it’s all about attitude. Now you see we bring the attitude on the pitch,” he said to Sky Sports. “There was communication, there was a fighting spirit and, especially, there was a team and you can see what they can achieve. Because they can f—ing play football.”

When it comes to attitude, it’s important to note that captain Harry Maguire and the Portuguese castaway Cristiano Ronaldo were dropped from the starting lineup. The attack was expansive with willing runners to play the ball to while the defense was stout without needing to accommodate Maguire’s lack of pace. With a few more performances like this, they could be deemed surplus to requirements along with Luke Shaw after Tyrell Malacia contained Salah, who still managed to find the back of the net late in the proceedings.

What a difference this front three makes

The trio of Sancho, Rashford, and Elanga/Martial took care of all the necessary attacking damage to deliver a blow to Liverpool. Sancho and Rashford did the scoring while Elanga and Martial dished the assists. Rashford, in particular, was a man inspired with five shots as a central striker instead of his usual left-wing position to accommodate Ronaldo. Martial created two chances when he came on while also assisting Rashford’s goal. But more importantly, Rashford still has confidence in his shot.

They were also solid defensively tracking back to prevent Liverpool from overloading the defense which is something that can’t be done with Ronaldo in the side. Much has been made about sprinting numbers over the week after United were outrun by Brentford but based on the work rate they showed against Liverpool, ten Hag ball needs the team to sprint to make his system work. It does make me wonder if Casemiro will be asked to run when he is introduced into the team since he’s a different type of midfielder than McTominay but allowing him to sit deep could allow the team in front of him to be more expansive as well.

Player of the match 

Marcus Rashford (Man Utd). The forward showed glimpses of the talent that saw him emerge as one of the best young attackers in the league. He terrorised the visiting defence with his pace on the break and deservedly got on the scoresheet to end a lengthy barren spell. Could he enjoy a resurgence under Ten Hag? It remains to be seen.

Player ratings

LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 5, Van Dijk 5, Gomez 5, Robertson 6, Elliott 6, Milner 6, Henderson 5, Salah 6, Diaz 6, Firmino 5. Subs: Fabinho 6, Carvalho 6, Tsimikas n/a.
Match Highlights
10’ – MAN UNITED CHANCE! McTominay and Fernandes combine to free Elanga on Alisson but the United man’s low 18-yard strike cannons back off the far post. Huge let off for Klopp’s men.
16’ – GOAL! – Man United 1-0 Liverpool. Sancho shows brilliant composure to sit-down Milner with a lovely dummy before rolling the ball into the corner after a slick move down the left opened up the visitors.
41’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Martinez stops Fernandes’ scoring a bizarre own goal with a block on the line after Milner had nodded a right-wing corner into the six-yard box.
53’ – GOAL! – Man United 2-0 Liverpool. The hosts break at pace and Rashford charges clear on to Martial’s pass before coolly beating Alisson at the near post.
56’ – MAN UNITED CHANCE! Alisson springs to his left to push away Rashford’s low shot after Varane had caused chaos in that shaky Liverpool rearguard.
77’ – MAN UNITED CHANCE! Rashford darts in from the left and flashes a venomous strike just over the bar.
81’ – GOAL! – Man United 2-1 Liverpool. Salah nods in the rebound after de Gea had kept out Carvalho’s low strike. Suddenly the visitors have a lifeline!
Key Statistics 
Rashford ended a run of 997 minutes without a goal in all competitions for Manchester United, since netting vs West Ham in January earlier this year.
Salah has scored more goals in all competitions against Manchester United than any other Liverpool player in history (10).
ten Hag is the first Manchester United manager to secure his first ever competitive win with the club in a match against Liverpool.

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