Super sub Xherdan Shaqiri secured Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool a 3-1 win against bitter rivals Manchester United to go back to the top of the Premier League and ratchet up the pressure on Jose Mourinho.
Here, we take a look at how the two managers fared in Sunday’s Premier League clash.
Buoyed by the midweek win against Napoli but perhaps feeling the effects of those exertions, Klopp made four alterations on Sunday. Fabinho and Naby Keita brought freshness to the midfield, while Dejan Lovren came in for the injured Joel Matip. But it was Nathaniel Clyne, making his first Premier League start since May, that was the most eye-catching inclusion against a United side that initially showed 10 changes from their drab Champions League loss at Valencia. Romelu Lukaku was the only survivor until Chris Smalling pulled up in the warm-up, meaning Eric Bailly took his place in a three-man defence flanked by wing-backs.
United’s defence turned into five-man backline when out of possession, allowing Liverpool to boss the play and pile on the pressure. The gap between Mourinho’s defence and attack meant they were regularly turning the ball over and lacking almost any attacking impetus. Sadio Mane’s opening goal after Ashley Young switched off had been coming, but the Reds’ tempo dropped and Alisson Becker’s fumble allowed Jesse Lingard to draw United level against the run of play and give them hope.
Both managers prowled the touchline in the first half, which United were fortunate to emerge from on level terms. Mourinho changed things up at half-time and brought on imposing midfielder Marouane Fellaini for right-back Diogo Dalot – a move that raises questions at why he went for a destroyer rather than more technically-proficient Paul Pogba. It allowed United to move to a back four and have more presence in midfield, congesting things somewhat and asking Liverpool to break them down. Mourinho was encouraging his side on the few occasions they attacked, but play was becoming stretched and Klopp turned to attack-minded Shaqiri in place of Keita in a bid to capitalise – a decision that paid off immediately.
Klopp’s decision to bring on Shaqiri changed the match. The added extra attacking force unsettled United, who saw the Swiss substitute score two deflected efforts in quick succession to seal a memorable Anfield triumph. United had 36 per cent of possession and looked uninspired in attack, whereas Liverpool moved 19 points ahead of their rivals and back top of the Premier League. Little wonder Liverpool fans were chanting “don’t sack Mourinho” towards the end.
Provided by Press Association Sport
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