Manchester United defeated Liverpool 3-2 in the 4th Round of the FA Cup, in a match that lived up to the rivalry and absolutely deserved a full capacity atmosphere to match. Bruno Fernandes didn’t start, but came up with the heroics to help seal a win late, and cap off an exciting game between England’s two greatest clubs.
It was a fairly eventful start to the match, with both teams creating potential goalscoring opportunities. Liverpool were undone by an inaccurate cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Rashford failed to create more than a corner with a surging run forward. Still, the signs in the opening five minutes pointed to a livelier game than the one played a week prior in the Premier League.
Mason Greenwood had a go at goal in the 10th minute after breaking down the right. He had little help to aim for, took it himself, and was denied from a difficult angle by Alisson. Still, the play was promising from the youngster, who has struggled to find good form this season, and was indicative of the openings in Liverpool’s defense on the counter. It was the start of a couple counter attacking opportunities, including another for Greenwood, but the chemistry in the front 3 proved slightly out of sync, and they probably could have done better with the chances.
United switched off at 18 minutes, and let Salah in far too easily to lift one over Henderson. Lindelof and Shaw the culprits at the back, but McTominay failed to press his man in midfield. The visitors took the lead, arguably against the run of play.
A few minutes later however, Mason Greenwood found an equalizer. He brought it down and hit it into the far corner, on the end of a brilliant cross-field pass from Marcus Rashford. Robertson and Alisson were both scrambling to deal with it, but Greenwood’s finishing ability shone through for United. Two very good goals from the two sides, exploiting space from the opposition’s defense to make it 1-1 within the first half hour.
The remainder of the first half was similarly lively, and presented even more opportunities for the two sides. Pogba and McTominay did well breaking up more Liverpool breakaways, but couldn’t spring any of their own. In the 41st minute Fabinho was called and booked for a late kick at Greenwood, giving Pogba a free kick in a dangerous position. It went just wide of the top right corner, as he tried to bend it around the wall. The period of possession that followed saw United nearly score again on a Luke Shaw ball across goal, but it fell just behind Rashford, and McTominay’s shot on the rebound was blocked. On the verge of half-time Rashford did well to beat Williams and Fabinho to set up a shot for Pogba, but his effort again went just wide. The two sides went into the dressing room level 1-1.
United started the second half as they ended the first, and scored within the opening minutes. Rashford brought down a great through ball by Greenwood and calmly passed it past Alisson into the net, giving United a 2-1 lead. Greenwood nearly doubled the lead himself, but a clever Cavani back-heel flick on was just off his path enough to allow Trent Alexander-Arnold to recover.
Thiago and Milner provided a sign of life for Liverpool in the 58th, the former sending the latter in on goal, but the shot went well over Henderson’s goal. Their attack didn’t let up however, and a giveaway by Cavani helped lead them through for Salah to equalize with his second. 2-2.
The pressure kept coming, and Henderson was forced into a save on an Alexander-Arnold shot just moments after conceding. The moment seemed to mark a change in momentum for Liverpool, and even the addition of Fred and Bruno Fernandes for United didn’t seem to change their fortunes trying to win the ball back and counter. The addition of Mane helped for Liverpool, and their front 3 began to appear more confident than they had in recent matches.
The match gradually settled again, and a competition between fairly evenly matched sides entered the final fifteen minutes with chances going both ways. Salah was denied a hat trick by Dean Henderson, and Pogba’s surging run led to a save by Alisson. A free kick given away by Fabinho gave United another chance in a dangerous position. Bruno Fernandes delivered a brilliant shot around both the wall and Alisson, and gave United the lead with 10 minutes to play.
United kept up the pressure, but were careful not to leave too much space for Liverpool. Rashford pulled up awkwardly after a run, and had to be replaced by Anthony Martial with 5 minutes to go. The Frenchman, who scored on his debut against Liverpool 5 years ago, was involved quickly on a movement forward, but was caught in a miscommunication with Pogba on a potential opportunity to make it 4-2. Moments later they found themselves going forward again, and Cavani hit the post on a headed attempt. Nearly put the game to bed.
Liverpool’s big chance to equalize came on a free kick in stoppage time. Alexander-Arnold’s cross in was headed away by Pogba, and Salah connected on a volley that sent it well wide. United never really looked too uncomfortable other than that, and they were able to get the ball forward into Liverpool’s half late to see out the four minutes added and get into the 5th round of the FA Cup.