Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United looked to exploit two of Liverpool’s weaker links as they defeated their north-west rivals 2-1.
Marcus Rashford’s two neat finishes within the first 25 minutes – on his first start since Boxing Day – put Mourinho’s side in control at Old Trafford.
Eric Bailly’s own goal midway through the second period gave Klopp’s visitors hope, but there was no way back as United pulled five points clear of their north-west rivals in the battle for second place.
“We were quite aggressive in the first half,” Mourinho told the BBC.
“We wanted to have control of the game, spaces for transition and try to exploit – not weaknesses – but points where the opponent is not so good.
“The second half it was not our intention to be as defensive as we were. Liverpool pushed us back but I don’t remember the chances that need David de Gea to make the goal safe.
“I don’t remember a dangerous situation to our goal. It was control by them having the ball and control by us without the ball. I think we deserved the three points.”
When questioned further, Mourinho admitted United had looked to exploit two players in particular.
Lukaku dominated Lovren throughout, and Mourinho says that the Belgian “was confident” he could take on the Liverpool centre-half.
“You can be in control of the game without the ball,” he told Sky Sports. “Against Liverpool you can be in trouble when you have the ball, it allows them to do what they do better.
“I’m not the kind of mechanic coach who says A pass to B, B pass to C. Lukaku was confident, from experience, he could be dominant over Lovren.
“My intention was to give a direct opponent to Arnold. Arnold is fast, but probably Marcus is faster. Create them problems going in behind their defence.”
“It was a complete performance by us. Even if people think we don’t deserve I don’t care. Three points!
“We won and I don’t care what people say. Three points, very important victory, the boys are happy, I’m happy.”
When asked whether the victory would be good preparation for Champions League, Mourinho said: “The three games in the league, the Champions League and the FA Cup are independent events, with no relation to the next match.
“The human brain is a complex thing. The defeat leaves a bit of damage and victory makes happiness even if you are fatigued.
“The best thing was to win this match.”
The best United news direct to your Facebook timeline: Like our dedicated Manchester Utd Facebook page.