Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool boosted their hopes of Champions League football next season with a 4-2 Premier League win at Manchester United on Thursday.
Liverpool’s first victory at Old Trafford in seven years left them knowing that winning their last three games will give them a great chance of breaking into the top four at the end of a disappointing season.
“Great fight, good game, intense, and the first win at Old Trafford since I am here,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
“Good timing, I would say. We fought hard for it, we deserved it”.
The fixture, re-arranged after fan protests 10 days ago led to the match being postponed, took place after a massive security operation foiled another attempt at disruption from protesters.
After spending seven hours inside the ground having arrived early to avoid attempts to block their bus. United took a 10th- minute lead when Bruno Fernandes’s shot was deflected past Alisson Becker by the outstretched leg of Nathaniel Phillips.
Referee Michael Oliver awarded Liverpool a penalty after an Eric Bailly challenge on Thiago Alcantara but reversed his verdict after the VAR monitor showed the United defender had played the ball.
Liverpool did draw level in the 34th minute when Diogo Jota flicked in a low shot from Phillips and the visitors took the lead on the stroke of halftime thanks to Firmino’s back-post header.
The Brazilian extended the visitor’s lead two minutes after the interval, when after sloppy play from United Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot was spilled out by goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Firmino slotted home.
Marcus Rashford pulled one back for United, with a confident finish after a smart exchange with Edinson Cavani, but as the home side pushed forward in search of a leveller, Mohamed Salah wrapped up a positive night for the Merseysiders with a fine finish after a swift break.
Liverpool moved above West Ham United into fifth place on 60 points. Juergen Klopp’s side are four points behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth Champions League slot but have a game in hand on the London team.
Third-placed Leicester face fourth-placed Chelsea next Tuesday which could provide an opening for Liverpool.
“We are still in the race, that’s all we could have done tonight,” said Klopp.
United stayed second in the table, 10 points behind champions Manchester City.
Liverpool arrive at Old Trafford amid fan protest ahead of Man United clash
Liverpool’s squad arrived safely at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium for Thursday’s Premier League clash as home fans protesting against the club’s owners attempted to disrupt the game for a second time in 10 days.
Sky Sports posted a video on Twitter showing players and officials arriving at the stadium for the match, which is scheduled to kick off at 8.15 p.m. local time (1915 GMT) even as fans let off flares outside the venue in a largely peaceful protest.
Earlier Liverpool bus blocked en route to Old Trafford ahead of Man United clash – reports
Liverpool’s team bus has been blocked off on its way to Old Trafford as fan protestors attempt to disrupt their Premier League clash with Manchester United for a second time in 10 days, British media reported on Thursday.
The Athletic reporter Daniel Taylor wrote on Twitter that the tyres of the vehicle had been punctured.
The fixture was originally scheduled to be played on May 3 but was postponed after violent clashes between fans and police in which more than 100 supporters forced their way into the stadium and stormed the pitch to protest against the club’s owners – the Glazer family.
To avoid a repeat, several United players were pictured arriving at Old Trafford six hours before kick off on Thursday in contrast to the squad traditionally travelling together after meeting at the Lowry Hotel.
United’s home game against Leicester City on Tuesday went ahead without incident after a heavy police and security presence along with a ‘ring of steel’ set of barriers around the Old Trafford venue ensured no access to fans, who are barred from the ground due to COVID-19 restrictions.
As part of the protests which stopped the Liverpool game from taking place, fans blocked the exit of the Manchester hotel that is regularly used by the club for the players’ pre-game meal, meetings and rest.
But it appears that United broke from their usual routine on Thursday with pictures published on the websites of The Sun newspaper and the Manchester Evening News showing several players arriving early at Old Trafford.
A spokesman for United said the club would not comment on players’ activity or timings.
Protests against the Glazer family, who bought United in 2005, reignited after the Americans were involved in a failed attempt to create a breakaway European Super League.
United owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer has promised he will meet with fans groups to discuss their concerns.