Firmino leads top four charge, as Liverpool sink Man Utd in chaotic six-goal thriller

Date published: Thursday 13th May 2021 10:08 - Steve Pearson

Firmino.Liverpool.TEAMtalk

Roberto Firmino bagged the timeliest of braces as Liverpool overcame their Old Trafford hoodoo in a wild six-goal thriller.

Liverpool entered the contest knowing four wins from four would likely see them secure Champions League football. However, the Reds’ form at Old Trafford has been suspect in recent years, going winless in their last eight visits to the home of the Red Devils.


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Man Utd survived an early penalty scare, with referee Anthony Taylor waving away appeals after Roberto Firmino’s cutback struck the arm of Eric Bailly.

Alisson Becker then got himself in a tangle, passing straight to Edinson Cavani while attempting to play out from the back. The Uruguayan turned and fired goalward but his shot rolled agonisingly wide as Liverpool breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The Reds weren’t to be so lucky moments later when Nat Phillips turned a Bruno Fernandes strike into his own net.

Superb work down the right freed Aaron Wan-Bissaka before teeing up Fernandes. The Portuguese shot appeared to be sneaking inside the post, but was given a helping hand by Phillips to open the scoring.

Dean Henderson has drawn his fair share of criticism over recent months, but proved his worth to deny Diogo Jota a vital equaliser mid-way through the half.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was afforded time to pick out the frontman, but Henderson rushed out quickly to smother the first-time shot.

Liverpool thought they’d found a route back into the contest after a rash challenge from Bailly felled Phillips in the box. After a brief VAR consultation, the decision was overturned after replays showed the Ivorian get the ball first before contact was made.

That incident spurred Liverpool into life, and Jurgen Klopp’s men soon restored order after Man Utd failed to clear a corner. Phillips kept the attack alive before his shot was deftly flicked beyond Henderson by Jota to make it 1-1.

Liverpool were in the ascendancy and on the stroke of half time, took the lead after a trademark Alexander-Arnold delivery.

The full-back whipped a teasing ball to the far post for Roberto Firmino to nod home after evading the slack marking of Paul Pogba.

Not content to rest on their laurels, Liverpool charged out of the blocks after the interval and swiftly bagged a third.

Fred and Luke Shaw were both guilty of surrendering possession cheaply while playing out from the back. Alexander-Arnold’s resulting shot was parried by Henderson straight to Firmino who kept his composure to bag his second of the game.

Three should have become four as Liverpool cut through Man Utd’s backline. A swift counterattack set Jota away, but his radar was off, lashing his strike against the post from a fantastic position.

Lacking the leadership of Harry Maguire, the Red Devils’ defence were at sixes and sevens as Liverpool chances continued to flow.

Their inability to take their chances was soon punished when a free-flowing move between Cavani and Marcus Rashford pulled one back.

Scything through the centre of Liverpool’s defence, Rashford showed great pace to hold off the covering run of Andy Robertson and roll the ball beyond Alisson to make it 3-2.

An almighty goalmouth scramble soon followed as Liverpool began to show signs of fragility and nervousness.

Fernandes and substitute Mason Greenwood twice were both denied as Liverpool fought tooth and nail to preserve their lead.

Jurgen Klopp rang his own changes in the hopes of wresting back control of the contest, introducing Curtis Jones and Sadio Mane to the action in place of Jota and Wijnaldum.

With time winding down, Salah put the game to bed when calmly slotting past Henderson after a rapid solo break.

The win thrusts Liverpool firmly back into contention for top four, and with favourable fixtures remaining, Klopp will fancy his side’s chances of playing in the Champions League next season.

 

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