Tuesday 18 October 2016

Match report: Liverpool 0-0 United

Two world saves from David de Gea proved pivotal as Jose Mourinho's first Anfield visit as United manager ended in a disappointing stalemate.

The visitors and their manager will undoubtedly be the happier of the two teams as Liverpool failed to score for the second time this term- their first home blank of the season. 

In an attritional, evenly contested encounter, neither side created much in the way of chances but De Gea- who otherwise had nothing to do- pulled off two incredible second half stops to deny Emre Can and then Philippe Coutinho. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, again selected as the lone striker, went close twice early on with a free-kick from distance before Lloris Karius saved well to keep out a deflected effort from the lively Swede. 

Sadio Mane's excellent cross picked out Roberto Firmino but he could only head tamely at De Gea, while Young and Eric Bailly were both booked for a coming together with James Milner and Dejan Lovren. 

Shortly after half time, the visitors created- and subsequently spurned- their best chance of the contest when Paul Pogba beat Jordan Henderson and picked out Ibrahimovic but he should have done better with his header back across goal. 

De Gea then superbly saved one-handed from Can, and the Spanish keeper was called into action again soon afterwards as Liverpool pressed for the elusive breakthrough. 

He dived to his left to push away Coutinho's dipping effort from distance to preserve his clean sheet then had an easier save to make from Mane's weak header on 70 minutes.

Wayne Rooney- scorer of the winning goal in last season's corresponding fixture, was then introduced in place of Marcus Rashford and the skipper was quickly involved. 

He won a corner from which Marouane Fellaini- a surprise inclusion in the line-up but a superb performer on the night- headed narrowly wide from Daley Blind's flag-kick. 

At the other end, Jurgen Klopp's side continued to look more likely winners but they were subdued by a classic Mourinho performance of defensive organisation and discipline 

With the clock ticking down, Firmino found himself clean through on goal and looked poised to shoot only to be denied by a magnificent saving challenge from the impressive Antonio Valencia. 

That proved to be the final action of a match high in energy and endeavour but lacking in clear cut chances, a result that keeps United in the chasing pack five points behind early leaders City.

Overall team performance: 7.5/10

United Faithful Man of the Match: Ander Herrera. Probably his best performance in a United shirt so far. Superb energy, industry, composure and positional awareness. Totally bossed the midfield areas. Honourable mentions to Fellaini, Valencia and Dave. 

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