Manchester United suffered a devastating defeat away at Liverpool on Sunday, going down 7-0 in the biggest loss ever recorded in this historic derby. United conceded at the tail-end of a promising first half, with six further goals following in a dismal second. It was an uncharacteristic capitulation from Erik ten Hag’s side, who’ve not won at Anfield in over seven years.
There were no real surprises in the United lineup, with ten Hag naming the same side that beat Newcastle United in last weekend’s Carabao Cup final. That meant Diogo Dalot was preferred to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back, while Wout Weghorst played off centre-forward Marcus Rashford. Fred was still preferred in midfield to Marcel Sabitzer, partnering Casemiro.
United got off to a tentative start, though successfully restricted an energetic Liverpool to few meaningful chances. The hosts’ best early chance came when an on-form Mo Salah found enough space to step inside and curl a left-footed shot towards the far post, though it cleared David de Gea’s goal.
Gradually, United started to take command of the game, and created a string of good chances midway through the first half. A great low cross from Diogo Dalot found Bruno Fernandes goalside of Trent Alexander-Arnold, though the United captain’s diving header flashed back across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
An even better chance came just short of the half-hour, when a raking cross-field pass from Luke Shaw split the Liverpool centre-halves, though Marcus Rashford couldn’t make clean first-time contact, and scuffed the ball straight at Alisson. Casemiro thought he’d headed United in front shortly before halftime, though he was rightly adjudged to have moved too early on a wide free-kick, and the goal was chalked out for offside.
Seconds later, United momentarily took their eye off the ball, and paid a heavy price. Diogo Dalot found himself stranded high up the pitch, allowing Andy Robertson to strike a beautiful pass into United’s right-back zone. One-time United target Cody Gakpo found himself goalside of the covering Fred, darted into the box, and curled a low, right-footed shot into the bottom of the United goal.
It was a sucker-punch after a promising first half, and things were about to get significantly worse. Within two minutes of the restart, Liverpool doubled their lead, gifted a goal courtesy of some comedy United defending. The Reds missed several opportunities to clear their lines before the ball bounced through for Harvey Elliott, whose fine cross from the right side of the box was powered home by another Darwin Núñez header.
The third followed just three minutes later, and was the result of a blistering counter-attack. Salah received the ball wide on the right, sold Lisandro Martínez a dummy, and prodded a low pass in for Gakpo, who dinked the ball over de Gea and inside the far post from point-blank range. It was a brilliant finish, and one that all but killed the game. If only it had ended there.
Robertson might have added a fourth seconds after an Alisson error almost gifted Bruno Fernandes a tap-in, though the Scottish full-back curled wide of the far post. A towering header from Ibrahima Konaté followed moments later, though his effort flashed just wide.
Ten Hag soon shuffled his pack, with the ineffectual Weghorst and Fred withdrawn for Alejandro Garnacho and Scott McTominay. But Liverpool didn’t have to wait very long for a fourth. After more comedy defending from United, the ball bounced into the path of Salah, who lashed a rocket past de Gea from the edge of the box.
10 minutes later it was five, when a deep Alexander-Arnold ball was slung back into the area by Jordan Henderson, and glanced into the net by another Núñez header. Marcel Sabitzer was soon introduced in place of Casemiro, who’d looked off the pace from the first whistle. Tyrell Malacia came on for Martínez, who’d also turned in one of his worst performances in a United shirt.
Still United couldn’t stem the tide. Salah capped Liverpool’s win with a record-breaking sixth seven minutes before full time, overtaking Robbie Fowler to become his side’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer.
A seventh followed within six minutes, with Liverpool capitalising on an utterly demoralised and disorganised United defence. Salah slid a pass in for Roberto Firmino, who, with his back to goal, spun and struck a low shot past de Gea and a hapless Dalot on the goalline. It proved, mercifully, the last goal of a punishing 45 minutes, and it’ll be interesting to see how United bounce back against Real Betis in midweek.