Manchester United 1 Liverpool 1
Manchester United ended Liverpool’s winning start to the season after a hard-fought draw at Old Trafford.
Marcus Rashford had sent the Theatre of Dreams into raptures with his 36th-minute opener, and for long periods it looked like a hard-working United would hang on, until the visitors' substitute Adam Lallana struck with five minutes to go.
The Merseysiders' winning run in the league, stretching back into last season, comes to a halt at 17 games and Liverpool have now not won at Old Trafford in seven attempts.
David De Gea was given the nod to start in goal by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, just five days after coming off injured during Spain’s draw in Sweden.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka also made it into the XI after missing three games with injury, although Anthony Martial was only fit enough for the bench.
There was a further concern for the Reds in the warm-up, with Axel Tuanzebe hurting a hip – the 21-year-old was replaced by Marcos Rojo, with Phil Jones then named among the subs.
For the visitors, Mohamed Salah, who has never scored against United, failed to make the squad, two weeks after he twisted his ankle against Leicester City, but Alisson Becker returned in goal after a two-month absence.
As usual for this fixture, the two teams came out to a wall of sound, with no sign of a spare seat in the house at Old Trafford.
The animosity clearly felt between the two sets of fans spurred a blood-and-thunder start to the encounter, with neither side enjoying much by the way of prolonged time on the ball.
After a couple of half-openings for United, the visitors squandered their first real sighter on goal on 10 minutes when Roberto Firmino blasted high into the Stretford End.
Giorginio Wijnaldum then opted to give De Gea an early test, but his effort from 20 yards out rolled harmlessly into the Spaniard’s gloves.
Andreas Pereira, playing through the middle, with Rashford and Daniel James either side, was involved early on, forcing Alisson to get down to scoop up a speculative shot and moments later, just failing to find Daniel James with an imaginative flick.
United’s endeavour during the opening quarter of the game was summed up by Rashford, who was chasing after everything and, in one memorable moment, he beat Virgil Van Dijk for pace before comprehensively outmuscling the giant Dutch defender.
Another charge forward from the home side saw Scott McTominay, who, of course, netted a superb effort on his last appearance at Old Trafford against Arsenal, attempted a repeat on 25 minutes, but he couldn’t quite get enough behind it, and Alisson once again saved easily.
Even without Salah, the visitors’ threat on the break was still apparent and it was on the counter that the Merseysiders had their best chance of the opening half.
Mane pulled free down the right, in the area the Egyptian would usually occupy, and pulled back for Firmino, who should have done better than to hit the ball straight at De Gea.
The Brazilian was left to rue his miss when, a minute later, Rashford opened the scoring. Victor Lindelof’s challenge on Divock Origi in our half went unpunished by Martin Atkinson and, when the ball broke free, James flew down the right and crossed, finding our no. 10 who slipped by Joel Matip and tapped the ball home.
Cue bedlam in the stands, dampened only briefly by a Video Assistant Referee check which ruled the goal legal, much to the dismay of the Liverpool players surrounding the officiating team.
The Merseysiders were further aggrieved when, five minutes later, Mane’s apparent equaliser – after he beat Lindelof to a high ball and slipped it home – was ruled out by VAR due to the Senegal international handling in the build-up.
Jurgen Klopp sprinted down the touchline as soon the whistle for half-time blew and his team showed a similar amount of purpose when the game resumed, dominating possession in the early stages of the second half.
United were mainly penned back and looked to attack on the break through Rashford and James.
After a prolonged pause due to James taking a blow, it was from such a situation that Rashford almost made it 2-0 on 67 minutes.
Finding himself in space on the right from McTominay’s pass, Andreas superbly switched the ball over to the United no.10, who controlled the ball on his chest, drove inside and just skewed his shot wide of the post.
More good interplay involving Andreas allowed Fred to meet the ball on the rise in the visitors' area, but unfortunately the Brazilian couldn’t find the target.
At the other end, Liverpool were attempting to pick the lock, mainly through full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but United seemed comfortable playing on the edge of our own box, with little space afforded to the likes of Firmino and Mane.
Our midfield quintet were putting the hard yards in to prevent the Merseysiders from finding time and space in the centre of the park and also providing a threat at the other end, with Fred again going close with a 25-yard howitzer from the right.
As the minutes ticked by, it looked like it would be United’s day, but substitute Lallana found himself free at the back post, and crucially onside, to equalise with five minutes to go.
Buoyed by the goal, Liverpool pushed for the win and hearts were in mouths when Alexander-Arnold's rising effort flew just over De Gea’s crossbar and when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent the keeper sprawling in injury time, only to see his shot go just wide.
But Solskjaer's side held on and exited the pitch to a standing ovation, a recognition of their excellent effort and work rate.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Rojo, Young (c); Fred, McTominay, James, Andreas (Williams 90+4); Rashford (Martial 84).
Substitutes not used: Romero, Jones, Garner, Mata, Greenwood.
Scorer: Rashford 36.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (c) (Lallana 71), Wijnaldum (Keita 82); Mane, Firmino, Origi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 59).
Substitutes not used: Adrian, Gomez, Lovren, Milner.
Scorer: Lallana 85.