Manchester United held Premier League pacesetters Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, and almost nicked a win. Marcus Rashford opened the scoring midway through the first half, and United held their lead until deep in the second. Alas, Adam Lallana undid an impressive defensive performance with an equaliser five minutes from time, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men may well feel encouraged by their display.
United made a swashbuckling start against the league leaders, and though they didn’t convert their early bustle into any real chances, they proved effective at rattling a normally unshakeable Liverpool. Rashford, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James pressed from the front with impressive energy, and the visitors struggled to settle.
It took Liverpool over half-an-hour to create the game’s first real chance, though Roberto Firmino couldn’t make clean contact with Sadio Mané’s low cross, and David de Gea got down to make a comfortable save.
A couple of minutes later, a United counter culminated in the game’s opening goal, though it wasn’t without controversy. Liverpool felt Victor Lindelöf had fouled Divock Origi before James sent a low cross into the box for Rashford to turn home, and the goal was promptly sent for VAR review. Much to the anger of Jürgen Klopp, however, it was allowed to stand, and United held their unlikely lead.
VAR came to United’s aid again a couple of minutes before halftime, when Mané thought he’d levelled the scoring. Replays showed that the Senegalese forward had brought down Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long ball with his hand before prodding past de Gea, and Liverpool trudged off at the interval unexpectedly behind.
There was little change early in the second half, with United’s impressive positional discipline continuing to stifle a Liverpool side unaccustomed to trailing. Solskjær’s men looked content to sit on their slender lead, and didn’t create another chance until midway through the second half, when Rashford fizzed a low shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Liverpool were no more productive, which made it only all the more galling when they netted a grimly inevitable equaliser with just over five minutes left. It was a goal from nothing: United’s defence should’ve comfortably dealt with Andy Robertson’s low cross from the left, but the ball squeezed through for an unmarked Adam Lallana to tap home at the far post.
In the end, it wasn’t a bad United performance; indeed, there was plenty to be encouraged by. United’s defence looked strong against one of Europe’s top sides, and Rashford’s performance alongside James up top suggests there’s much more to come from their partnership. Yet it was certainly disappointing to concede so late, and in such a fashion.