Liverpool FC roared their way back in form and back into contention for a top-four finish in a belter of a performance, inflicting the joint heaviest defeat of 7-0 on arch-rivals Manchester United in the Premier League clash between the two giants on Sunday.
Playing at Anfield, the two sides came into the match under circumstances totally different from what the final results showed. While, Liverpool had an underwhelming season, dropping out of the two domestic cup competitions and on the back of a drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League, sitting below their opponents on the league table, Manchester United have been one of the teams of the season under new boss Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman has transformed the fortunes of the Old Trafford club and turned some underperforming stars into match winners with United claiming their first trophy of the season in the EFL Cup against Newcastle United.
However, the final results echoed the age-old saying that form goes out of the window in derby games. Even as Liverpool posted four clean sheets on the trot in the Premier League, winning three matches and drawing the other, in somewhat of a revival of fortunes, many would have downplayed the side to falter at Anfield against a well-oiled Manchester United side.
The first half began with Liverpool dominating proceedings from the off, creating chances and dangerous situations. However, a familiar foe of not being able to convert them into goals, seemed to have struck Liverpool again as they could not work David de Gea on goal for United. On the other hand, the Red Devils had already shot several times at Alisson, albeit not in clear cut scoring situations.
It looked like the frailties in the team would come back to haunt them, even with a much better showing in the midfield for Liverpool. Everything was turned on its head when Andy Robertson played in new January arrival Cody Gakpo, who cut inside and rounded the keeper to score the first goal of the match from Liverpool’s first shot on target, right at the stroke of half-time, meaning Liverpool took the lead in at the break.
Things were not as bad for United as they were only one goal down and were expected to claw their way back into the match. However, whatever Erik ten Hag told his players in the dressing room, went completely out of the window as Liverpool and Darwin Nunez came roaring back at the beginning of the second half to head in the second goal of the game and put Liverpool 2-0 up.
Even at that score line, it was not seen as out of hands for the Red Devils. But Liverpool ensured that it would not be anything close to a repeat of the Real Madrid game. Soon after the second goal, Mohamed Salah played in Cody Gakpo after some good work on the right flank with the Dutchman scoring his second of the match from a tight angle. That goal seemed to have broken the floodgates as Liverpool now played fearlessly, looking every bit like team that was vying for a quadruple, a year or so back.
As Liverpool started to play fearlessly, Manchester United kept on making mistakes, handing opportunities to their opponents. Liverpool’s Egyptian king Mohamed Salah was on hand to lash out after the ball fell kindly for him bouncing off a United player inside the box to put Liverpool 4-0 up. That was followed by Darwin Nunez’ glancing header from a cross to put Liverpool 5-0 up on the night.
For those who thought that would be the end of suffering for Manchester United, they were in for some more. After a commotion inside United’s box, the ball again fell kindly for Mohamed Salah to poke home from close range for Liverpool’s sixth goal. With Jurgen Klopp ringing in the changes and handing the longtime servant and outgoing Roberto Firmino a go at the game, it was the Brazilian who put the final nail in the coffin, finishing past de Gea to make it 7-0 on the night.
Multiple records were broken on the night as Liverpool inflicted the joint heaviest defeat on Manchester United with the 7-0 score line. Mohamed Salah’s brace meant he became the top scorer for Liverpool in the Premier League, overtaking Robbie Fowler to the spot.