English Premier League

Manchester United 2 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool squandered the opportunity to return to the top of the Premier League as they were held to a draw in another Old Trafford thriller with Manchester United.

Manager Jurgen Klopp and his players will wonder how they failed to avenge the FA Cup quarter-final loss here last month as they paid the price for missing numerous chances, having overrun the hosts for long periods.

Liverpool only had a Luis Diaz strike to show for almost total first-half superiority in which they had 15 shots to none from United, whose manager Erik ten Hag was thankful for the visitors’ wastefulness and saves from keeper Andre Onana.

United, almost unbelievably, were gifted a lifeline five minutes after the break when Liverpool defender Jarell Quansah passed straight to Bruno Fernandes, who lifted a finish over stranded keeper Caoimhin Kelleher from inside the centre circle.

Kobbie Mainoo then put them ahead after 67 minutes with a superb curling finish at the Stretford End for his first home goal.

But Liverpool salvaged the draw, which was the least they deserved, when Mohamed Salah scored from the spot with six minutes of normal time left after Aaron Wan-Bissaka lunged in late on Harvey Elliott.

Liverpool now lie second behind leaders Arsenal on goal difference, with Manchester City a point further back in third place.

United show contrasting sides

Manchester United will have left their fans baffled and delighted in equal measure after a performance of the sharpest contrasts which earned them a point that looked way beyond them for the first 45 minutes.

Their only consolation from an opening half in which they were outclassed was that Liverpool were not over the hills and far away after cutting through the home defence at will.

Dominik Szoboszlai was denied by a superb save by Onana, with the Hungarian midfielder missing two other good chances as Liverpool camped in United’s half. Diaz’s 23rd-minute goal – a calm finish after being left unmarked in the box – was scant reward.

The half-time whistle came as a relief to the home contingent at Old Trafford but, just as in that enthralling 4-3 FA Cup success, United showed that for all their flaws they are still a threat if you do not take your chances.

And it came with that error from Quansah as Fernandes pounced on a poor backpass and spotted Kelleher off his line to finish in spectacular fashion.

Mainoo provided a special finish too, but Wan-Bissaka’s rash challenge on Elliott meant United could not celebrate another memorable victory over Liverpool.

It was such a mixed display that it offered no clues as to whether under-pressure manager Ten Hag is on the right lines, but United’s consolation is they have inflicted a blow on Liverpool’s pursuit of a 20th top-flight league title – which would match their own tally.

Will Liverpool regret their wastefulness?

Liverpool will know better than anyone this was a huge chance missed to reassert their authority on the title race.

Klopp’s side would have gone above Arsenal with victory but had to settle for a draw – and only got that with Salah’s late spot-kick – after having 28 shots and missing enough opportunities to win several games.

And it was a self-inflicted wound by centre-back Quansah’s mistake that helped United off their feet and shifted the momentum of the game.

Having peppered United’s goal in the first half and on plenty of occasions in the second, Liverpool were strangely blunt in attack.

Salah missed several chances that came his way, but showed composure under pressure to become the first opposition player to score in four consecutive visits to United.

Manager Klopp cut an agitated, animated figure for much of the game, barely able to believe how Liverpool engineered a position where they might even leave Old Trafford empty handed.

They did get a point, which was something, but the Reds will be hugely frustrated that they themselves contrived to hand the title initiative back to Arsenal.


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