With a 2-1 victory over Liverpool, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford give Manchester United their first victory of the year. Despite Mohamed Salah’s late goal, the Reds are defeated for the first time in a league game since 2022.
At Old Trafford, Manchester United defeated Liverpool 2-1 thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford in an unrecognisable display of class and intensity.
After receiving harsh criticism for a week following their 4-0 thrashing at Brentford the previous weekend, United rallied to beat Jurgen Klopp’s team and secure their first league victory over their bitter rivals since March 2018. It was also Erik ten Hag’s first win as manager of United.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said, “I cannot believe what I just saw,” in a speech to Monday Night Football. “I’m in utter disbelief. What I witnessed today shocked me since I believed the players had honed their skills over months at the close of the previous season and the beginning of this one.”
This was a different United, whether it was an anomaly or not. Before Sancho had a chance to spin onto his left foot in the box and shoot past an unsighted Alisson (16), they had already startled their opponents. David de Gea did not need to make a stop before halftime.
Instead, United upheld their early promise and increased their lead eight minutes into the second half when Anthony Martial, who had been added at halftime, freed Rashford to defeat Alisson at his near post.
Jamie Carragher of Sky Sports remarked of his previous team, “Liverpool should be getting precisely the same treatment after today. Manchester United got a lot of criticism for their defending against Brentford last week.”
With 10 minutes left, the visitors did manage to draw a goal back. Mohamed Salah then became the first player in Liverpool history to score 10 goals against United by nodding home the rebound of Fabio Carvalho’s drive.
However, the hosts’ night of tenacious defence persisted, and it carried them to their first victory of the year and the declaration of purpose Ten Hag had been waiting for from his new team.
We may discuss tactics, but mentality is everything, the winning manager said to Sky Sports after the game. “Communication and fighting spirit were present, and you can then see what they are capable of.
“They brought to the field the alternative approach and attitude I was hoping for. It is just a beginning. We are able to play with considerably more poise and danger. Being a team and having a positive attitude are what we observed today.”
How resurrected Manchester United outdid Liverpool
United’s intensity was completely different from the team that had disintegrated so easily at Brentford nine days before, spurred on by an Old Trafford audience that understood their team required loud support.
Prior to Anthony Elanga latching onto Bruno Fernandes’ excellent square pass and striking the base of the post when clean through five minutes in, Virgil Van Dijk had previously expressed concern about Marcus Rashford’s pace.
The pace of United’s attack was relentless, and Sancho was the calmest player at Old Trafford to move the ball onto his left and slide it into the open corner of Liverpool’s net following some excellent one-touch passing between Christian Eriksen and Elanga.
Neville criticised the visitors’ shaky start by saying, “You see this great Liverpool side over the previous three or four years, you don’t frequently see them like this – if at all.”
The closest they came was when Fernandes cleared a corner right into Lisandro Martinez on his own goal-line. They did improve from their stumbling start, but not enough to put De Gea to the test before halftime.
At halftime, Roy Keane, a former captain of Manchester United, declared, “United are at it.” The fact that they have only scored one goal is a significant disappointment.
Keane and United wouldn’t have to worry about it for very long. Martial received a hard touch from Henderson, and his quick thinking allowed Rashford to move into position behind Alexander-Arnold.
The newly self-assured No. 10 sped past the opposing defence before slipping the ball inside Alisson’s near post and emphatically celebrating the goal in front of the Stretford End to emphasise its significance to him personally.
Rashford was allowed to dance past three challenges as Liverpool moved forward and continued to struggle defensively before shooting from the edge of the box with a dipping effort just over Alisson’s bar.
Salah had the easy chore of defeating the stranded goalkeeper with a near-post header for the Reds, who had scored in every Premier League match since December 2021, as they attempted to make a game of it late on when Carvalho’s effort was palmed out by De Gea to Salah.
Even though Liverpool made a valiant effort to score an equaliser in the closing ten minutes, the pressure now rests squarely on Klopp’s team after they failed to win their opening three league games for the first time in ten years.
Gary Neville praised his former team for showing “heart, enthusiasm, and energy” after a disastrous start to the season, but Jamie Carragher ripped into Liverpool for their “embarrassing” defending in their 2-1 loss at Manchester United.
“Liverpool’s defence was utterly appalling. They absolutely weren’t at the races, “said Carragher.
“In the first half, United appeared to be on the verge of scoring every time they moved forward. It was humiliating. Liverpool were erratic and inconsistent.
“Although Liverpool weren’t prepared for a derby game, United were fantastic. They didn’t appear prepared for the game, which worries Jurgen Klopp at the moment.”
Neville retorted, “I never imagined I’d say that after the past few weeks, but seeing these guys makes me incredibly happy to be a Manchester United supporter.
“Manchester United’s fight, spirit, and energy were fantastic. I’m in utter disbelief since I didn’t think it was possible. The first 45 minutes of what I was viewing were incredible. I didn’t believe Manchester United could do it. This is a significant change.
“I don’t know what has transpired on the practise field this week, but they have responded. Whatever it is, I find it hard to trust what I have seen. They outpace Liverpool in both running and sprinting.”
“Although there are tactical considerations, attitude is everything. Both communication and a fighting spirit were present.
“They brought to the field the alternative approach and attitude I was hoping for. It is just a beginning. We are able to play with considerably more poise and danger. Being a team and having a positive attitude are what we observed today.
“Sometimes, it’s not even about what I said. I advised them to stop talking so much and take action. I also advised them to work as a team, engage in bravery, and give each other options.
“We need to act, not speak a lot, I told the guys. Make sure you fight as a team and have courage. There are other issues besides spirit out of possession.
“Strikers occasionally believe they cannot because they must reserve their energy for aggressive operations. You noticed that there is a need for it today. Rashford and Sancho scored the goals, which makes me delighted.
“Although I am pleased with the performance, we must bring it every time. Don’t only use Liverpool as an example. Every Premier League match is challenging, so we must bring our A game. Once more, it all begins in the spirit.”
Klopp: We could have won if we had played a little bit better.
“We manage the week with 14–15 senior players available, so it is clear that we are in a difficult situation in terms of injuries. We must ensure that none of them get hurt because there are no other viable choices remaining.
“We could have won this game even in our predicament if we had played a little bit better and had more faith in our abilities. I am aware that this is absurd, yet that is how I perceive it.
“When they first started out aggressively, it was rather obvious what would happen. Reality reveals whether or not we are truly prepared, and in the early going, they were more aggressive than we were, they struck the post, and the game was frantic.
“After they scored, we grabbed control and mostly played the game we wanted to play.
“Situations didn’t go our way, especially with regard to set pieces. In a game like this against a team like United, it would be really useful if we could score in that situation and go in 1-1 at halftime. I don’t know how one ball didn’t go in.
“Giving up the second one doesn’t help, and when we score, the game becomes chaotic with numerous interruptions, which is not what we were hoping for.
“Perhaps they were [sharper], but when we cooled down, we were there. Of course, that isn’t right. We had an unusually high number of shots for an away game at United; if we continue doing that, we should make better use of these opportunities.”
The following task for Manchester United is a trip to Southampton on Saturday at noon. Then, on September 1, Erik ten Hag’s team visits Leicester City before playing home to Arsenal three days later in a live Sky Sports match.
Liverpool will now play two home games: Bournemouth on Saturday at 3 p.m., and Newcastle the following Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Merseyside Derby versus Everton will then take centre stage on Saturday, September 3 at noon.