Eric Bailly's strong performance spoiled after deflection kills Manchester United hope

Aditya Devavrat 08:54 17/12/2018
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Eric Bailly had a solid game ruined by an unfortunate deflection.

Manchester United hadn’t conceded in their last three visits to Anfield, but that proud record against fierce rivals Liverpool fell apart on Sunday in a 3-1 loss.

The result was harsh on United’s defenders, as Ashley Young, Victor Lindelof, and Eric Bailly put in excellent displays, with the latter especially unfortunate as he provided a telling deflection on Liverpool’s game-clinching goal.

Bailly’s all-action display caught the eye despite that moment. Here’s a closer look at his performance.

KEY STATS

Tackles – 5

Tackle success rate – 83%

Interceptions – 7

Dribbles – 1

Clearances – 3

Passing accuracy – 74%

30-SECOND REPORT

Drafted in after an injury in the pre-match warm-up to Chris Smalling, Bailly slotted into the centre of Jose Mourinho’s back three. Bailly helped United withstand some early pressure, though he was powerless to stop Liverpool’s opener.

Bailly continued to battle, and even helped set up a United attack with a lung-busting run. But his horror moment would come as he went to close down a Xherdan Shaqiri shot, only to deflect it past David De Gea to give the Swiss forward his second goal.

GOT RIGHT

Tackling and Positional play

Bailly’s resoluteness in defence was impressive, as his partnership with Lindelof did a good job of keeping Liverpool’s high-flying front three at bay. The Ivorian kept popping up to make important tackles.

Even more impressive was his reading of the game, as he often stepped up to cut out passes or simply positioned himself perfectly to prevent an attacking pass getting through.

Though Liverpool dominated the game, given Bailly’s efforts the winning margin – coming as it did from two deflected goals – was harsh on him.

GOT WRONG

Leadership 

Ultimately, when a team concedes three times, questions will be asked of the defence. And Bailly, who also scored an own goal when Liverpool visited Old Trafford last season, will probably feel he could have done a better job of closing down Shaqiri’s shot, even if the deflection was unlucky.

Equally, he should have been asking his midfielders to get tighter to Liverpool’s players, and he definitely could have spotted Mane’s run for the first goal and communicated with Ashley Young.

VERDICT

Few people will remember that this was a battling defensive performance from Bailly, who held his own against Liverpool’s much-vaunted attack. Though United didn’t look like scoring, at 2-1 there was always a chance that they could equalise; Bailly’s intervention to deflect Shaqiri’s shot into his own net killed all hope.

Where that leaves the centre-back is anyone’s guess. Bailly has been working his way back into Mourinho’s good graces. Whether the manager will remember the overall performance or the deflection remains to be seen.

RATING – 6/10

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