Liverpool reached this Sunday a rout as unlikely as it is historic against a Manchester United that was in recovery. At Anfield Road, the “reds” they won 7-0 (yes, 7-0), on the 26th day of the Premier League, and relaunched the fight for the Premier League podium, with the aggravating factor of having inflicted a very hard blow on a direct rival.
Cody Gakpo started out as the figure of the match, alternating movements with Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah in front of the attack. The Dutch striker opened the scoring at 43′, after an excellent diagonal exploring the depth, and the break ended at 1-0.
Nothing could predict what happened in the second half, however. After 45 minutes of balance and without a large flow of goal opportunities, Liverpool’s flood dragged Manchester United across the pitch. At 47′, Darwin Núnez headed it to 2-0, after Harvey Elliott’s pass; at 50′, Gakpo scored twice with an excellent pass and a classy finish; at 67′, Salah joined the list of scorers with a first-time shot, in the central zone.
United’s nightmare, which had led an 11-match unbeaten run, was not yet over. Darwin scored twice in the match with another header, after a cross from the left, Salah did not want to stay behind his teammates and, in a confusing move, with Diogo Jota already on the field (and in the move), he also scored the second goal. And, before the final whistle, even Roberto Firmino, released at 79′, left his mark on the game (88′).
In the last 20/25 minutes, Manchester United stopped being a real team and the result grew. In order to understand the dimension of the debaclesuffice it to say that this outcome equals the heaviest defeats in the history of “red devils” in the championship: they lost to Blackburn (in 1926) and to Aston Villa (1930), also by 7-0. Something that had not happened for… 93 years.
And for United fans who thought that, facing a historic rival, nothing could be worse than what happened on October 24, 2021, at Old Trafford (defeat by 0-5, on matchday 9), well, they were wrong. In a game in which Liverpool had eight shots on target, they managed five – a very high success rate. And even with Alisson in a period of less confidence (he faltered a couple of times in the footwork), the visitors were not able to, at least, reduce the expression of defeat.
It’s going to be a tough hangover for Erik ten Hag, who seemed to have found the formula for stability, in a United that haven’t lost since January 22 (3-2 against Arsenal) and that climbed to third place in the standings – and that recently eliminated Barcelona in the Europa League. What kind of dent this defeat will make, only time will tell, but the next few days will be of European demand, with Betis on the way in the UEFA competitions.
“I think we played a pretty decent first half. We just made one mistake in organization before the break. In the second half, it just wasn’t us. These aren’t our standards. We didn’t play as a team. We were unprofessional. Yes, I’m angry, without a doubt”, reacted the Dutch coach, quoted by BBC Sport.
For Liverpool, this rout could be a tonic for another level of regularity in the performance. Since the distant month of October, the team has not won three consecutive victories, but the truth is that it has not conceded a goal for five matches and is now just three points away from fourth place (occupied by Tottenham) – which gives access to the Champions – and with an overdue game.
At the same time, he sees some nuclear elements showing signs of an increase in shape. One of them is Mohamed Salah, who added two goals to two decisive passes this Sunday, thus becoming Liverpool’s top scorer in history, with a total of 129 (surpassing Robbie Fowler). And the Egyptian is especially productive against United, an opponent for whom he has already scored 11 goals, a feat unparalleled in the curriculum of “reds“.
“It is very special to win a game in this way. We have to remain humble and win our games. Hopefully this will give us a boost”, summarized Mo Salah, without hiding his satisfaction for the record he broke. “It’s very special, I’m not going to lie. To get it against Manchester United is unbelievable.”