Liverpool took back top spot in the Premier League, but failed to take full advantage of three Manchester United first-half substitutions as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
Jurgen Klopp’s men lead Manchester City by just a single point with both sides now 27 games through the campaign.
But the German will be deeply concerned after another listless performance in 2019, one full of imprecision.
United’s XI was without an injured Nemanja Matic and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were dealt further blows after the game kicked off as Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and the Spaniard’s replacement Jesse Lingard were all substituted through injury.
Roberto Firmino was another to exit early after rolling his ankle, while Marcus Rashford also struggled with an issue of his own despite completing 90 minutes.
Liverpool dominated possession but the hosts created the better opportunities. Here, we rate Klopp’s outfit after a dour draw.
Alisson 7 – Smothered the best chance of the game when he raced out to tip then collect the ball from Jesse Lingard’s feet. Assured performance.
Virgil van Dijk 6 – Largely untroubled, but that’s not surprising considering United’s forward line evaporated like water in the desert.
Joel Matip 6 – Arguably Liverpool’s most progressive ball carrier. Burst forward in an attempt to drag players out of position.
Andrew Robertson 5 – A really subdued display from the flying Scot, who was restricted by having to curb the influence of Romelu Lukaku.
James Milner 4 – Probably the worst performance of his Liverpool career. Slow to act when play was funnelled through to him and his crossing was diabolical.
Fabinho 6 – Competed well physically, made good recoveries and passed with assurance. Not his fault those ahead of him were poor.
Georginio Wijnaldum 6 – United’s midfield really struggled to get a grip of him as he used a series of body feints to manoeuvre some room.
Jordan Henderson 5 – The captain was picked for his solidity when a more attack-minded option was required. Didn’t really make an impact.
Roberto Firmino 5 – Off before the half hour mark with an injury, initiated the press well before that but wasn’t really afforded time to find his rhythm.
Sadio Mane 5 – Buzzed around the pitch with his typical enthusiasm, but once more the forward’s accuracy in possession deflated promising attacks.
Mohamed Salah 4 – Dreadful. Provided zero quality on the ball and any threatening position was wasted through his clumsy decision making.
Daniel Sturridge 5 – Brought on for Firmino instead of Shaqiri to ensure Liverpool kept their 4-3-3 shape. Barely left an imprint, bar a speculative long-range effort.
Xherdan Shaqiri 6 – Finally on for Henderson in the second half and at least looked to inject more vigour into what was a lifeless Liverpool performance.
Divock Origi N/A – Entered in the final 10 minutes as the Reds went more direct.
Klopp had accepted an FA charge after he claimed Friend was affected by the decision to allow Sadio Mane’s 22nd-minute goal to stand despite it being offside.
Klopp suggested Friend realised the mistake and tried to make up for it over the remainder of the game.
Speaking to Sky Sports immediately after the match, Klopp said: “We had good moments, scored a goal that was offside but I think the ref knew at half-time and you saw there were a lot of strange situations – not decisive, just rhythm-breakers…50-50s, 60-40s, free-kick for the other team.
“If I make a big mistake in the first half, as a human being I don’t want to open the gap more.”
That brought an FA charge for making comments which questioned the integrity of the referee or implied bias.
An FA statement on Thursday said: “Jurgen Klopp has been fined £45,000 after accepting an FA charge for comments made following Liverpool’s league game against West Ham United on 4 February 2019.
“His comments made during a post-match interview breached FA Rule E3(1), as they questioned the integrity of the match referee and/or implied bias.”
Liverpool and Bayern Munich played out a tense and absorbing goalless draw when they began their round-of-16 commitments in the Champions League.
In a game of precious few chances, the closest either side came to a breakthrough on Tuesday came early on when Joel Matip’s blushes were saved by Reds goalkeeper Alisson after the centre-back sliced a close-range clearance.
The sides meet again at Allianz Arena on March 14. Here we examine three key talking points to emerge from the clash:
MANE’S INCONSISTENT FINISHING
Sadio Mane is the type of the player to make the incredibly difficult look improbably easy and then in a vexing twist, make the simple appear hard.
Liverpool had their chances at Anfield, particularly in the first half, and Mane was guilty of missing prime opportunities.
It’s a criticism which has been levelled at the Senegalese forward for much of his career, and it seems an odd thing to say of a player who came into this tie scoring in each of his last four appearances.
There were two Mane misses which the Reds could well come to regret. The first was around the half-hour mark when a trademark Liverpool break away saw Naby Keita work space to shoot.
His deflected effort bounced through to a marginally onside Mane, square in front of goal, and as he spun to turn the ball towards the bottom corner, his connection dragged the shot wide.
A minimal expectation was to hit the target given the space and time he was afforded. The next one, in his defence, was much more difficult as he was forced to contort his body and attempt a rather lavish overhead kick after another Keita strike was blocked. That effort was also well wide.
The 26-year-old is a player with a gifted skill set, but composure has never really been his finest trait and it’s something which if he improved, would see him compete for top goalscorer awards.
Liverpool desperately needed one from him on Tuesday and he failed to deliver. Scoring in Munich will be no easy feat, but then Mane does seem to make it harder for himself.
LIVERPOOL MIDFIELD DOES ITS JOB
It was one of the main talking points discussed here before this fixture and it ultimately came to fruition.
Liverpool’s control of the midfield was always going to dictate the state of the tie, but the incredible efforts of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Keita went to waste because of those around them.
Indeed, Mane’s profligacy has already been discussed and we’ll come on to defence as well. But make no mistake, the performances of those three cannot be overlooked.
Henderson’s entire Liverpool career has been encased with doubt, not from his managers it must be said, but certainly from the supporters.
What you can’t deny, though, is that in home fixtures against elite competition, the Reds captain is a massive influence.
The 28-year-old was everywhere on Tuesday, helping to double up on electric wingers Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry whenever they tried to exploit space as the full-backs retreated into position.
Even with the shuttling across, he still managed to marshal space infield and fire quick balls out of the back. And then the two ahead were superb whenever they received the ball.
Keita’s first touch was so silky and his interchanging of play around the box was seamless.
Wijnaldum, operating higher up the pitch, was again excellent. Virtually impossible to knock off the ball, his constant twisting and turning dragged players out of position and he attacking with purpose and guile.
A faultless performance from the middle three, who will have another huge role to play in the second-leg.
INTENSITY BREEDS MISTAKES
One of the big discussions from this game is just how error-strewn both sides were. Yet, that owes to the ridiculous intensity it was played at.
Bad decisions led to wrong passes and wayward touches. The incorrect options were often taken and it was disproportionate amount considering the quality on both sides.
But neither team was allowed time in possession. Both employed high presses to unsettle one another and the defences in particularly really struggled.
If you look at the first half, Liverpool’s backline achieved a 76.6 percent pass success rate, down from the 90.2 percent against Bournemouth at the weekend.
Bayern, too, also suffered with their five only marginally better with an 81.7-per-cent success rate, again way down on the 92 per cent they recorded at Augsburg.
That intensity made for a fascinating watch, but it did also mean the quality was much lower than we would expect from two elite European sides. Both will need to improve in the second leg.
Damn. Gnabry is good. Arsenal could use a player with his type of creativity.— Zito (@_Zeets) February 19, 2019
Considering Bayern Munich failed to register a shot on target, picking out one of their attackers for praise would seem odd.
However, Serge Gnabry was the standout. Not many wingers have caused left-back Andrew Robertson a lot of unease this season, but the former Arsenal man got inside his head and mangled it with a display of trickery and direct running.
One piece of play in particular could have led to a goal. Early in the first half, the 23-year-old sumptuously brought down a long diagonal ball, feinted to his left, darted to the right to leave Robertson bent out of shape and then fired the ball across goal.
Matip almost diverted into his own net, only for Alisson to be in the right spot to block. Bayern’s ploy was obvious: to release Gnabry as quickly as possibly and leave him one v one with Robertson.
The Germany international was a constant threat and that was further evidenced in the second half when he elegantly moved in from his wide-right position to smack a left-footed strike just over the crossbar.
Alisson was beaten by the pace. Bayern’s best moments arrived when they were able to release Gnabry – it just wasn’t quite enough.
But considering the talk for a long time about this Bayern team has been about the lack of options to replace aging wing men Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, it’s fair to say that on the big stage, Gnabry is doing his best to dispel that notion.