Man Utd ace earns a zero as Salah settles Ronaldo debate in Liverpool rout – Player Ratings

Date published: Sunday 24th October 2021 6:23 - Steve Pearson

Naby Keita celebrating with Mohamed Salah against Man Utd 2021

Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick to outshine Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, while a Red Devil earned a score of zero as Liverpool humbled Manchester United 5-0.

Liverpool stunned the home crowd into silence after five minutes when breaking the deadlock through Naby Keita. After Manchester United’s token press was easily played around, Mohamed Salah fed Keita who coolly slotted beyond David de Gea.

One quickly became two when Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw gifted the Reds a second goal. Indecision between the two saw the ball ultimately break to Trent Alexander-Arnold down the right. His fizzed low cross picked out Diogo Jota at the far post who tapped home on the stretch.

United briefly rebounded and fashioned several shooting opportunities, though lacked the clinicality Liverpool were displaying in the final third.

Mohamed Salah bagged his customary goal prior to half-time when showing greater desire than a cluster of United defenders. The Egyptian hared to the near post ahead of several in red before tucking home Keita’s accurate cut-back.

United’s afternoon went from bad to worse when Salah notched his second on the stroke of half time. With 45 minutes remaining, Liverpool were four up at Old Trafford.

Salah then collected his hat-trick minutes after the break after Jordan Henderson produced a defence-splitting pass.

Pogba made a cameo from hell when receiving his marching orders just 15 minutes after his half-time introduction and was one of two United players to earn below a 2/10 in our player ratings.

Manchester United

David de Gea: Bailed Rashford out when denying Salah after the Egyptian was bizarrely teed up by the United forward. Superb stop at full stretch to tip an Alexander-Arnold piledriver over the bar. Faultless for all of Liverpool’s goals as his defence in front folded on the biggest stage. 5/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Poor decision to sprint out of the line for Keita’s opener leaving Lindelof outnumbered. Tried to get his foot in to rouse the crowd but was part of a United defence that looked lost against Liverpool’s movement and energy. 3

Victor Lindelof: Dragged out wide for Liverpool’s first after an unconvincing high press was easily bypassed. Overrun in the first half with Solskjaer’s selection of just two midfielders backfiring.  3

Harry Maguire: Horror moment alongside Shaw helped gift Liverpool their second when indecision surrendered possession in a dangerous area. Sluggish for Salah’s first when caught on his heels. Too easily spun by Firmino for Liverpool’s fourth. Lack of pace was ruthlessly exposed for Salah’s hat-trick goal as things continued to go from bad to worse on an afternoon he’ll not soon forget. 1

Luke Shaw: At fault for Jota’s goal when getting in a tangle with Maguire on the edge of his own box. Got forward well after United settled and rifled a powerful strike agonisingly wide of the far post. Defending, however, remained his biggest concern and unfortunately for United, he did not do it well. Reacted too slowly as Salah raced away from his clutches for the third goal. 3

Scott McTominay: Battled hard but always faced an uphill struggle in the engine room. 4

Fred: Struggled to contain Liverpool’s midfield three with Solskjaer’s selection ensuring he was outnumbered. 4

Mason Greenwood: Looked unsure whether to press or drop deep when Liverpool were in possession down their left. A relative non-factor going forward and replaced by Pogba at the break. 3

Bruno Fernandes: Uncharacteristically wayward with his finishing from a glorious early opportunity when still 0-0. Remained United’s biggest creator-in-chief as Solskjaer’s side clawed their way back into the contest after a miserable opening 15 minutes. Exquisite first-time through ball to set Rashford through on goal, though the energetic forward’s scuffed strike did not trouble Alisson.

Booked for a lunge on Jones immediately after the break and looked as if his frustrations could boil over at any minute. 4

Marcus Rashford: Bizarre 30-yard pass back into his own half that teed up a shooting opportunity for Salah. Never lacked for effort and looked lively in the final third, though it was a day in which his side’s defenders would be the bigger story. 4

Cristiano Ronaldo: Blazed over with his first sight at goal, though did have several tidy touches when linking up play more than in recent weeks. Lost his head after seeing a 1v1 denied by Alisson prior to half time when kicking out three times at Jones, but escaped with just a booking. 4

Substitutes: 

Paul Pogba (On for Greenwood, 46m): Weak for Salah’s third when allowing Henderson to rob him of possession in the centre circle. Given a straight red after just 14 minutes on the pitch for a horror lunge that saw Keita stretchered off. 0

Diogo Dalot (On for Fernandes, 62m): Helped stem the tide in the final half hour. 5

Edinson Cavani (On for Rashford, 62m): Hit the crossbar with the goal gaping from four yards out. 3

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Liverpool

Alisson Becker: Quick off his line to deny Ronaldo late in the first half. United’s wayward shooting ensured his afternoon was quieter than he might have expected. Pogba’s red card meant his final half hour was played out as barely more than a spectator.  7/10

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Trademark superb delivery for Jota’s goal. A constant threat when raiding down the right and rarely put a foot wrong in his own half. Almost scored with a fierce piledriver that produced a world-class stop from De Gea. 8

Ibrahima Konate: A surprise selection with Joel Matip left on the bench, perhaps with Ronaldo’s aerial prowess in mind. Couple of nervy moments on the ground early but got his head to everything in the air. 7

Virgil van Dijk: Marshalled the troops well and rarely looked under duress. One of his more comfortable afternoons at Old Trafford. 7

Andy Robertson: Bombed forward with his usual tenacity. Regularly left Greenwood in his wake as the United forward struggled with whether to stick or twist. 8

Naby Keita: Calm and composed finish to make it 1-0 when breaking forward from midfield. Alert to pounce on Maguire and Shaw’s indecision to kickstart the move for Jota’s goal. Continued his stellar first-half display when teeing up Salah to slot past De Gea for the third. Had a superb afternoon cruelly ended when stretchered off after a shocking Pogba lunge. 9

Jordan Henderson: Captain’s display in the middle of the park. Constantly pointing and barking orders as he dictated the play with his mouth and gestures as much as his feet. Robbed Pogba of possession after the break before producing a divine pass to tee up Salah’s hat-trick goal. 8

James Milner: Would’ve scored if Jota wasn’t around after queueing up behind the Portuguese for Liverpool’s second goal. Replaced by Curtis Jones in the 27th minute after picking up an injury. 6

Mohamed Salah: Superb weight of pass to tee up Keita for the opener when he could’ve been so easily tempted to go alone in current form. Pounded the turf in frustration after being denied by De Gea in a chance that could’ve put the game to bed after half an hour. 

Got his customary goal prior to half time when reacting quicker than United’s defenders to waltz in at the front post and tuck Keita’s cut-back away. Fine finish for his second on the stroke of half-time when squeezing the ball inside the near post with a first-time finish and quickly bagged his hat-trick after the interval.

Debate has raged recently as to whether Salah or Ronaldo is currently the world’s best player. On today’s evidence, the answer to that question is clear. 10 (Man of the match)

Roberto Firmino: Superb interplay for Salah’s first goal with neat one-two’s in tight areas. A constant menace with clever movement that dragged United’s centre-halves this way and that. 8

Diogo Jota: Right place at the right time ghosting in unmarked as all good forwards should strive to do for Liverpool’s second. Registered an assist for Salah’s second. 8

Substitutes:

Curtis Jones (on for Milner, 27m): Lively in possession and never shirked away from receiving the ball in dangeroous areas. Got under the skin of both Ronaldo and Fernandes with the United pair lucky to escape red cards in incidents with the midfielder. 7

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (On for Keita, 64m): 6

Sadio Mane (On for Firmino 76m): N/A

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