Report: United 3 Liverpool 2
Super-sub Bruno Fernandes was Manchester United’s FA Cup match-winning hero as the Reds won a pulsating fourth-round cliffhanger 3-2 at Old Trafford.
It was a thrilling cup tie worthy of inclusion in any catalogue of edge-of-your-seat matches between these two powerhouses.
The match swung from one side to another and never let up throughout the 90 minutes.
Liverpool drew first blood after 18 minutes through Mo Salah. But the Reds indomitable spirit came to the fore again as we hit back through Mason Greenwood in the first half and took an early second-half lead when Marcus Rashford struck.
Jurgen Klopp’s side wouldn’t lie down, however, and equalised with another Salah goal in the 58th minute.
United once again brilliantly dusted themselves off and Fernandes’ free kick 12 minutes from time saw us through to a fifth-round home clash against West Ham next month.
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FIRST HALF - ALL SQUARE
Liverpool had the lion’s share of the early possession, but Greenwood began on the front foot for the Reds and had two chances to break the visitors' rhythm. Unfortunately he had one strike saved by Alisson in the 10th minute and, three minutes later, he drilled one wide at the Stretford End. But it was a warning to Liverpool.
Before our striker could get it spot on, United had to endure going behind in the 18th minute. Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw were split by an accurate through-pass by Curtis Jones and Sarah seized on the chance to lift the ball over Dean Henderson to open the scoring.
The Reds famously though aren’t easily put off by having to comeback in games and eight minutes later we were level.
If last Sunday’s Premier League match was a disappointing 0-0 statement this was developing into something entirely different. Paul Pogba broke up a 26th minute Liverpool attack and the ball found its way to Marcus Rashford. From the halfway line the striker arrowed a superb cross-field pass over the Liverpool defence and into Greenwood’s path. He controlled it with his chest and then smashed a right-footer past Alisson.
United had certainly turned the Liverpool tide and became the dominant force.
Shaw’s corners were a dangerous weapon with both Pogba and Scott McTominay coming close with headers from the left-back’s set-pieces. Shaw also forced a save from Alisson after sprinting into the box and McTominay had a powerful drive blocked. Pogba also went close as the Reds kept up our superiority and ended the half easily on top.
SECOND HALF - BRUNO SEALS A THRILLER
The interval didn’t break United’s flow and the Reds took a deserved lead three minutes into the second half. It was a brilliant, incisive switch from a throw-in by Shaw in our own half that Greenwood turned into a Rashford attack on goal with a one-touch pass. Rashford was clear of Liverpool’s trailing defence and kept his cool as Alisson advanced to steer it past the Brazilian number one.
United’s advantage lasted just 10 minutes as Klopp’s side recovered their composure and snatched back the initiative.
James Milner let the Reds off the hook when he scooped a golden opportunity over the bar from inside the six-yard area. The reprieve didn’t last long though as the visitors kept up the assault and soon after seized on some sloppy United play out of defence. The lapse ended with Salah getting his second as he fired beyond Henderson to make it 2-2.
It was a real cup thriller now and Henderson had to come to the Reds' rescue with a great save from a Trent Alexander-Arnold rocket in the box. Liverpool were a rejuvenated animal and Henderson had to save again in the 67th minute to stop Salah nabbing a hat-trick.
Solskjaer had brought on Fernandes and Fred moments earlier in a bid to win back the midfield battle and get more of a grip again on the game. And it was Bruno who did just that 12 minutes from time.
A Fabino foul on Cavani inside the 'D' was as good as a penalty kick for our Portuguese maestro and he brilliantly curled home his free-kick into the bottom corner.
Cavani almost put the icing on the cake during a nail-biting finale when he hit the post with a superb 88th-minute header, but it wasn't needed as the Reds powered on to round five.
United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire ©, Shaw McTominay, Van de Beek (Fernandes 66), Greenwood (Fred 66), Pogba , Rashford (Martial 86), Cavani.
Subs not used: De Gea, Telles, Tuanzebe, James, Mata, Matic.
Goals: Greenwood (26), Rashford (48), Fernandes (78)
Booked: Lindelof, Pogba
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, R. Williams, Fabinho, Robertson, Thiago (Shaqiri 81), Wijnaldum (Mane 62), Milner, Jones, Salah, Firmino (Origi 81).
Subs not used: Kelleher, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Tsimikas, Shaqiri, Origi, Phillips, N Williams.
Goals: Salah (18, 58)
Booked: Fabinho, Mane