Super-sub Adam Lallana tapped in his first goal in two-and-a-half years to salvage a late 1-1 draw for Premier League leaders Liverpool at Manchester United.
Marcus Rashford followed on from his midweek strike for England with a close-range finish from lively Wales winger Daniel James’ superb cross on 36 minutes. But this required the video assistant referee to reject calls for a foul from Sweden centre-back Victor Lindelof in the build-up on Belgium forward Divock Origi.
The hosts – who came into this 203rd derby just one point above the relegation zone – looked to have held on for a first top-flight victory since September 14, especially after prolific Senegal star Sadio Mane’s goal was ruled out by VAR for handball before the break. Lallana, however, emerged at the back stick to convert a devilish Andrew Robertson centre on 84 minutes to prevent a first league loss of the campaign, although the Reds couldn’t force a record-breaking 18th-successive victory in the absence of injured Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah.
Here are the Liverpool player ratings:
Alisson 6: Back in a Reds shirt for first time since August. Precious little to do.
Trent Alexander-Arnold 5: Pinged some trademark cross-field balls. But stymied by Solskjaer.
Joel Matip 5: Left for dead by Rashford’s excellent movement for goal. Not at recent standard.
Virgil van Dijk 7: Knocked over by Rashford in first-half. Imperious display, otherwise.
Andrew Robertson 8: Just when Solskjaer’s wing-backs threatened to quiet him, delivered supreme cross. Class act.
Jordan Henderson 6: Not too good, not too bad. Skipper made way as Reds searched for a goal.
Fabinho 6: Earned only booking of game. Was his presence needed in match that Liverpool knew they’d dominate ball?
Georginio Wijnaldum 5: Could not replicate searing Netherlands form after end of international break.
Sadio Mane 6: Right call to rule out his first-half effort for handball. Missed Salah’s presence.
Roberto Firmino 5: Finishes lacked conviction in the first-half. Only a presence in the build-up, after that.
Divock Origi 5: Had strong argument he was felled for Rashford goal. Otherwise, poor imitation of injured Salah.
32.1% - Manchester United registered their second lowest possession figure in a Premier League home game since 2003-04, second only to a 32.06% figure also against Liverpool in March 2018. Hospitable.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 20, 2019
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7: Game turned on its head when his attacking drive was added to midfield. Should have started.
Adam Lallana 6: A first goal since May 2017 – and what a venue to break your drought.
Naby Keita N/A: Drove Reds on in final minutes in first PL run-out of season.
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Jurgen Klopp insists his – and the club’s – poor record at Old Trafford has no bearing on Sunday’s match against Manchester United.
The German has not won in four visits to their arch-rivals’ ground, coming away with three draws and a defeat.
Liverpool’s last victory there came in March 2014, a 3-0 win by Brendan Rodgers’ side in their thrilling title challenge of that season.
In the Premier League they have won just five times in 27 visits, losing on 16 occasions.
But Klopp is a man whose mantra has always been to leave history where it belongs – in the past – and has no concerns about the statistics.
“I never really struggled with confidence to be honest. I am quite optimistic they (his players) have a chance,” said the Liverpool manager, whose side are looking to equal Manchester City’s Premier League record of 18 successive victories.
“History, in this case, is not really important. We are really looking forward to playing the game.
“If someone tells us I haven’t won there I wouldn’t have known. Let’s try for the first time and if we cannot win then perform in the best possible way and if they beat us ‘Congratulations’.
“We are not nervous because of the winning streak and the history we could make, we don’t think about it really. We are pretty relaxed but very ambitious as well.”
The Premier League leaders are eight from eight in the league this season and go into the weekend with an eight-point advantage at the top. Twelfth-placed United, by contrast, have endured their worst start for 30 years.
Nevertheless, there have been concerns expressed about recent performances with Liverpool enjoying a large slice of luck in their last two wins against Sheffield United, when goalkeeper Dean Henderson allowed the ball to slip through his legs, and Leicester, with an added-time penalty.
Klopp shrugged off the criticism, saying: “Can we play better, yes of course.
“But first and foremost you have to play better in the moment and that is influenced by your opponent, different situations, last game, next game, whatever.
“I liked the Leicester game a lot but that’s over now and we don’t rely on winning a game without performing.
“It is just about building on things and making the next step. We are not perfect but we are working on getting better.
“It worked out kind of so far and now the next challenge is a good opponent in a difficult situation and we should be ready for that as well.
“I am sure they (United) are all on their toes, ready and waiting for us.”
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts his Premier League leaders are currently at the centre of a “circus” but he insists it does not impact within the club.
They go into the weekend with an eight-point lead over defending champions Manchester City and face arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday with a staggering 15-point advantage.
It means the Reds are strong favourites to equal City’s Premier League record of 18 successive victories and has led to many pundits naming their combined XIs without a single United player in them.
“When you make a combined line-up and have 11 players of Liverpool – it’s like a joke, like building a banana skin,” he said.
“The world at the moment is a circus and we are at the centre. I’m not influenced by it. I am 100 per cent sure of the strength of Man United.”
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