Liverpool hadn’t kept a clean sheet in sixteen games, since they played West Ham in March, and some certain Belgian formerly at Everton was to make sure they were not going to do it this time either.
Composed first half
In the 10th minute Liverpool approached United’s box, with their left-back Brad Smith bombing down the left-hand side and squaring it into the box. Fortunately for the home side, Liverpool weren’t able to pull off a proper finish from the attack.
The Scousers had another go not long after, when the guests’ Danny Wilson chased a through-ball, but Joe Riley, who was at left-back for the third game in a row for the U21s, put the danger to an end.
The first proper goalscoring chance took place in the 27th minute. Nick Powell intercepted a pass from somebody who hasn’t played first team football since January, José Enrique, and passed it towards Josh Harrop, who let it between his legs to get Pereira through. Unfortunately, the Belgian’s effort went some distance off the target.
Fellaini goes under the radar – and scores
After Liverpool’s positive manner of entering the game, United improved as the game went on. And when Andreas Pereira put in a cross, and Nick Powell got the attention of Enrique and Smith, Marouane Fellaini turned up on the back post to tap in the opener off the post – 1-0!
Liverpool – in white for the occasion – came somewhere near an equaliser prior to the break, but Jordan Rossiter’s distant effort way off making any menace for Sergio Romero. However, the 19-year-old Jerome Sinclair, with three Reds appearances to his name, could’ve scored a tap-in from Joe Maguire just before the break, but didn’t exploit the opportunity.
United attacked the Merseysiders basically straight from the off in the second half, with Guillermo Varela crossing accurately for Nick Powell. Apparently the former Crewe player headed wide after being put under some pressure, but the referee still handed United a corner, which later faded into nothing.
Almost an hour into it, Andreas Pereira was close to extend United’s lead. He cut in from the left-hand side and aimed for the far corner with his lethal right foot, but the attempt was just a little bit wide of the post. Unfortunately, Nick Powell didn’t manage to get his boot on it either, in a half-hearted attempt to flick it on target.
Liverpool could’ve bagged the equaliser after 67 minutes, when Joe Maguire was on the receiving end of an aerial through-ball. The Manchester-born(!) Maguire got on a header as he sneaked in behind his full-back colleague Riley, but didn’t get any power to it.
Liverpool with danger flare
Subsequently they actually managed to find the back of the net, as Madger Gomes excellently volleyed home from 20 yards after a Borthwick-Jackson clearance, but to United’s relief, the player challenging the centre-back was (wrongly, because of lack of interference?) ruled offside, so the goal didn’t count after all.
A crucial incident took place in the 74th minute, when Guillermo Varela got a kick on Jerome Sinclair, who was heading straight towards Romero in the United net. Liverpool were appealing for a dismissal – which probably was a fair shout – but the referee claimed Borthwick-Jackson was there to back up Varela, and only handed out a booking for the Uruguayan. This really was the start of fifteen frantic minutes towards the end of the game.
At the other end of the pitch, the goalscorer Marouane Fellaini was looking for his second of the night. Receiving the ball just inside the box, he engineered a one-two pass with the substitute Devonte Redmond, fired towards Ryan Fulton, who was only able to parry it… into Nick Powell’s feet. Powell subsequently did what he did in the same fixture last season, and tapped home the 2-0 goal. This was Powell’s first goal after returning from injury last week, after spending ten months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Sinclair ignites Scousers’ hopes
The game was still not over though, with Liverpool pulling one back almost immediately. Sinclair, in a Fellaini-like manner, turned up on the back post, and tapping in O’Hanlon’s squared pass, some distance off Borthwick-Jackson and Riley, who confusingly failed to pick him up.
Sergio Romero hasn’t played many games since September, when David De Gea got back into the United first team, and the U21s have barely played a handful of games as well, so chances have been limited. That might have had some impact on his decision-making when he decided to punch O’Hanlon’s cross… Straight to the substitute Madger Gomes, who brought Liverpool level. Agonizingly, Gomes subsequently pulled off a Daniel Sturridge-esque dance just to rub it in.
Sean Goss seals the deal
United, however, weren’t done for the night, and in particular Sean Goss had no plans of Liverpool snatching a point here. Andreas Pereira crossed for Fellaini, who laid it off for Sean Goss at the edge of the box. Goss curled it excellently with his left foot,just above the defender’s head and out of the keeper’s reach, to hit the top corner and restore United’s lead!
United even could’ve put a final nail in the Liverpool coffin three minutes into added time, when Guillermo Varela somehow popped up at the penalty spot and got a clear shot after Pereira failed to control the ball properly. Unfortunately, Varela proved why he’s not a striker as he skied it way off target.
Mid-table United, thanks to lack of games
To sum things up, United narrowly managed to recover after Liverpool pegged back from 2-0 down with ten minutes to go, and therefore climb up to the middle of the table after being somewhere near the bottom prior to the game. The relatively poor position is, however, mostly down to lack of games, as the three wins and a draw from five games have yielded an average of two points per game. The only loss came last week against Norwich, who featured some really experienced players like Graham Dorrans and Kyle Lafferty.
United: Romero – Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley – Weir, Fellaini, Goss, Pereira – Harrop (Redmond 76) – Powell (Rashford (81)
Subs: Willock, O’Hara, Rashford, Redmond, Fosuh-Mensah
Goalscorers: Fellaini 32, Powell 79, Goss 88
Liverpool: Fulton – Maguire, Cleary, Enrique, Smith (Hart 46) – Wilson, Rossiter (Gomes 62), Chirvella (Virtue 86), O’Hanlon – Brannagan – Sinclair
Subs: Virtue, Firth, Gomes, Hart, Whelan
Goalscorers: Sinclair 83, Gomes 86