Recap: In the first ever European meeting between England’s two most successful clubs and its two fiercest rivals, Liverpool emerged comfortable victors. Philippe Coutinho’s fine individual goal just before halftime cancelled out Anthony Martial’s penalty to give Liverpool a 1-1 draw on the night at Old Trafford and a 3-1 win on aggregate.
Needing to overturn a 2-0 first-goal deficit from the first leg at Old Trafford, Manchester United started with the required intensity. And Old Trafford was bouncing when, having been brought down by Nathaniel Clyne in the area, Martial sent Simon Mignolet the wrong way from the penalty spot on 32 minutes.
But, crucially, United couldn’t keep the door shut at the other end. In a pulsating final 15 minutes of the half, both teams poured forward, creating chances. Both spurned opportunities, too. Coutinho had seen an effort brilliantly saved by De Gea, but soon made amends, setting off into space down the left and cutting inside past Guillermo Varela before beating De Gea with a delightful scooped finish at his near post.
Van Gaal had said before kickoff that his side would be capable of scoring the four goals required if Liverpool found an away goal. But the second half offered no signs that his players believed similarly. Even Van Gaal’s substitutions, replacing both full-backs and Michael Carrick with like-for-like alternatives, suggested that the manager had little faith they could get the three goals without reply needed.
While Liverpool move onto the quarterfinals and appear to be moving forward under Jurgen Klopp, Manchester United look to be going nowhere under Van Gaal. Having seen one avenue to next season’s Champions League disappear, a loss to Manchester City and the effective extinguishing of their final route to Europe’s premier competition may finally spell the end for the beleaguered Dutchman.
FULLTIME! Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (1-3 Agg.)
Manchester United were given plenty of hope when Anthony Martial converted a penalty just past the half-hour mark, but crucially they couldn’t keep the door shut at the other end. Philippe Coutinho’s fine individual goal right before halftime left United needing to score three more without reply and took the wind right out of their sails. In contrast to a thrilling first half, the second half was almost a non-event as United failed to offer any hope of a revival. Liverpool move onto the quarterfinals, while Manchester United must now surely beat Manchester City on Sunday if they are to keep any hope alive of reaching the Europa League.
90 mins: Almost a final flourish for Liverpool, but Origi’s shot was saved low down by De Gea. Just two minutes of injury time to play out.
88 mins: The Liverpool fans really are lapping up what is a rare night for them to celebrate at Old Trafford in recent years. This will be a painful experience for United fans, who may well let Van Gaal and the team aware of their dismay at the final whistle. It's perhaps notable that Ryan Giggs has come out onto the touchline to make his presence felt in the closing minutes, while Van Gaal sits motionless on the bench.
85 mins: Christian Benteke gets a few minutes to impress, replacing Firmino as the travelling Liverpool support drown out the United fans inside Old Trafford.
82 mins: Firmino joins Schweinsteiger in the yellow-card club, after a foul from behind to stop Lingard’s break.
80 mins: This match continues to end in dismal conclusion for Manchester United, with Schweinsteiger now entering the referee’s book for a poor challenge from behind on Adam Lallana right on the edge of the box.
78 mins: Coutinho goes close once more. This time he lines up a shot from 20 yards, but it’s too close to De Gea, who does well to stretch out a hand and tip it behind for a corner. Purely for morale purposes, United won’t want to lose this second leg at home to their arch rivals.
75 mins: Coutinho could have made the scoreline even more painful for Manchester United, but this time he fires straight at De Gea from Can's back-heel.
75 mins: That goal right before halftime from Coutinho really has killed Manchester United’s belief. The three goals aren’t going to come now and both teams can just play out the final few minutes ahead of key Premier League contests at the weekend.
72 mins: Fellaini misses another chance, this time side-footing horribly over the bar when found with a pull-back. He really has struggled in these two matches.
70 mins: Despite needing three goals with just 20 minutes remaining, Van Gaal still sees no need for Memphis to come off the bench. Instead, it’s going to be Bastian Schweinsteiger who comes on for Manchester United’s final substitution. He replaces Michael Carrick, who has looked labored of late.
67 mins: Liverpool make their first substitution, replacing Sturridge with another striker, Divock Origi. Sturridge doesn’t look particularly pleased, but he hasn’t enjoyed his best night.
63 mins: Manchester United make their second change, and it sees Van Gaal remove his second starting full-back, with Rojo departing to be replaced by Italy international Matteo Darmian.
62 mins: A chance for Sturridge to really kill the tie, but, after being fed by Coutinho, he sliced his shot wide of De Gea’s near post.
60 mins: Fellaini gets his best chance in the air yet, arriving easily onto the end of the cross, but only sending the header straight at Mignolet. He looks disappointed with that effort, and rightly so. That chance was tailor-made for him.
57 mins: There was an opening for United. Martial pulled the ball back for Rashford, but Sakho was on hand to make a fine sliding challenge. Moments later, the 18-year-old volleyed wide from just inside the box.
55 mins: Liverpool, unsurprisingly, have taken a more pragmatic approach at the start of the second half, and Manchester United have struggled to create anything of note as a result. With three goals needed, they surely need to get one on the board soon.
49 mins: Fellaini, who has struggled to have any impact on either leg, gets up at the back post, but Mamadou Sakho is able to stop the Belgian from getting a clean header on target. And moments later he earns a yellow card for swinging an elbow as he tried to free himself from Lovren's attention. He's fortunate it wasn't red.
Second Half Kickoff! Manchester United get the match underway, with a change in their lineup. After nearly five months out, Antonio Valencia makes his return in place of the man who was beaten by Coutinho for the Liverpool goal, Varela.
Here's Coutinho's fine individual goal:
HALFTIME! Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (1-3 Agg.)
And that goal was the final action of a pulsating first half. Manchester United got the vital first goal when Anthony martial picked himself up from begin fouled by Nathaniel Clyne’s challenge to convert from the penalty spot, but Liverpool have came right back. The game became thrillingly open after the first goal, with opportunities at both ends. But it was Liverpool and Coutinho who found the clinical touch to leave United having to score three without reply in the second half. The way the first half has gone, though, you wouldn’t right anything off in the second.
GOAL! Manchester United 1-1 (1-3 Agg.) Liverpool (Coutinho, 45)
There is the away goal for Liverpool! And it’s a piece of magic from Coutinho. The Brazilian was played into a big chunk of space down the left and he took full advantage, skipping easily past Guillermo Varela before producing a quite delightful scooped finish past from a tight angle to leave De Gea bewildered.
43 mins: A similarly glaring miss at the other end. Fellaini pulled back from the byline for Rojo, who sent the ball wide from just six yards. This tie is on a knife edge right now.
41 mins: What a chance for Liverpool to get a vital away goal! Coutinho found Henderson with a clear sight of goal 12 yards out in the center of goal, but the Liverpool captain side-footed it over the bar.
40 mins: It’s a thrilling spectacle now at Old Trafford, with neither team holding back in getting men forward. Certainly Klopp is fired up, having just unleashed a tirade upon one of his players after a Liverpool attack broke down.
37 mins: United threaten again. Carrick slipped a cute pass inside Milner to find Rashford down the right of the Liverpool penalty area, but he just failed to pick out a teammate in the middle.
35 mins: Liverpool inches away from instantly taking the win out of Manchester United’s sails. Sturridge lined up a free-kick from out on the right and sent it bending in wickedly toward goal. De Gea can’t it but the ball comes crashing back off the crossbar. Remember one goal for Liverpool and United would have to score four on the night.
Here's the challenge that led to the penalty and Martial converting it:
GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 (1-2 Agg.) Liverpool (Martial, 32)
Mignolet dived early to his left and Martial calmly put the ball into the other corner to pull Manchester United to within goal of Liverpool on aggregate and increase the decibel level inside Old Trafford substantially. Game on.
31 mins: Penalty to Manchester United! Martial goes down under a clear trip from Clyne and United have a chance to half their deficit.
28 mins: Coutinho is far sharper this time around, latching onto the ball just inside the box and blasting a low shot at goal. But just as several times in the first leg, David de Gea comes to Manchester United’s rescue with a stunning one-handed save and then recovers to his feet to prevent Firmino from getting onto the rebound. If United do somehow make it through this tie, no doubt they’ll have De Gea to thank.
26 mins: Another opening for Liverpool after a United turnover. This time the home side’s defense was all al sea to allow the ball to make its way to Philippe Coutinho in yards of space right on the edge of the box, but the Brazilian’s touch was so bad it allowed Michael Carrick to come in and intercept. Klopp will want his side to be far more clinical than that on the break.
24 mins: Fellaini got caught on the ball just inside his own half to allow Daniel Sturridge to be sent through down the left, but the forward’s shot was blocked by the United defense.
22 mins: After good play from Rashford, some quick footwork from Martial allowed him to cut into the box from the left and find a shooting lane, but his effort was high and wide. United starting to turn their possession into chances now, though.
19 mins: There’s the first big chances of the match, and they go the way of Manchester United. Some dreadful play at the back between defenders and goalkeeper allowed Jesse Lingard to have a completely free header eight yards out from Marcos Rojo’s cross, but Simon Mignolet was able to parry it to safety. After a resulting scramble, the ball falls back into the box and onto the left foot of Mata, but the Spaniard skewed his volley horribly wide of the far post.
18 mins: Adam Lallana thought just for a split-second that he had beaten the Manchester United offside trap to get through on goal, but the assistant referee rightly raises his flag. At the other end, still United are relying on individual pieces of skill to beat a man, or two, and seeing attacks repeatedly snuffed out with ease.
14 mins: Manchester United are certainly fired up for this second leg, and are snapping eagerly into challenges. So far, though, Liverpool have comfortably kept the home side at bay. Jurgen Klopp spoke before the game of the desire to quiet the crowd, and he’ll know that the longer the game remains goalless the tenser the Old Trafford faithful will become.
9 mins: Frustration for Marouane Fellaini who went down on the edge of the box after a slight push from Dejan Lovren and clutched the ball, only to find the refereeing pointing for a free-kick the other way. It’s another bog night for the Belgian, who has been a favorite of Van Gaal’s in matches against Liverpool.
7 mins: Not a great start from Mata, who lost the ball once with a tame tackle then, having been presented it back, woefully mishit a cross-field pass for Martial.
4 mins: For Manchester United, at least initially, it’s Juan Mata who is operating on the right flank, with Jesse Lingard playing in the hole behind Marcus Rashford. The crowd is certainly in full voice at the start, and both teams are playing at a frenetic early pace, but no opportunities yet at either end.
2 mins: James Milner is starting at left-back in place of the injured Alberto Moreno. Nathaniel Clyne stays in his regular position at right-back.
KICKOFF! Liverpool, kitted out all in black today, get the match underway.
4:03 p.m. EDT: Both teams are out of the tunnel at Old Trafford, with Manchester United being led by Michael Carrick and Liverpool by Jordan Henderson.
3:05 p.m. EDT: an hour before kickoff and both team lineups are in. Manchester United make two changes, with Jesse Lingard, who was suspended from the first leg, returning alongside Michael Carrick. Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay. Despite earlier reports that Daley Blind would miss out, he starts at the back. Ander Herrera, though is not in the 18. For Liverpool, Alberto Moreno misses out after picking up a hamstring injury on the eve of the match, and it appears that James Milner will fill in at left-back, or perhaps Nathaniel Clyne will switch to the left with Milner going in at right-back. Otherwise, the team is unchanged from the lineup that won the first leg 2-0 a week ago.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 17, 2016
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 17, 2016
Preview: A 2-0 victory at Anfield a week ago has put Liverpool within touching distance of a place in the quarterfinals of the Europa League and a historic victory over arch rivals Manchester United in the first ever European matchup between England’s two most successful clubs. And for manager Jurgen Klopp, it would provide a further result to spur fan enthusiasm in his first season in charge.
The matchup has major implications, too, for both teams’ chances of making next season’s Champions League. Given Liverpool and Manchester United need to make up ground to reach the top four in the Premier League, winning the Europa League presents a valuable extra route to Europe’s premier competition. With both clubs having experienced seasons without the glamor of the Champions League in recent seasons, it is not something they will want to repeat.
After a dominant performance at Anfield, when goals from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino could have even been added to, if not for some fine saves by David de Gea, Manchester United now have it all to do. And with a crunch meeting with neighbors and current fourth-placed team Manchester City upcoming on Sunday, Louis van Gaal is entering a crucial three days in his reign as Manchester United manager.
There will be some relief, then, that he has been able to include Antonio Valencia and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson in his squad for Thursday after both returned from injury. However, that positive news has been tempered by the exclusion of both Daley Blind and Ander Herrera from the party. Van Gaal already remains without captain Wayne Rooney, along with Luke Shaw and Phil Jones.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have a doubt over the fitness of Alberto Moreno after the Spanish full-back suffered an apparent hamstring problem on the eve of Thursday’s second leg.
Check back here from 3:45 p.m. EDT for live score updates and video highlights from the heavyweight encounter at Old Trafford.