Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: Ibrahimovic salvages Red Devils point

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  • Pogba penalty leads to Milner goal
  • Ibrahimovic equalizes in 84th minute
  • Point sees Liverpool move to 3rd

A rivalry with plenty of buildup produced a clunky game that needed a late moment to savor a draw as things ended level 1-1 at Old Trafford.

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A penalty for handball on Paul Pogba gave Liverpool a 1-0 first-half lead, and the Reds seemed comfortable to defend that advantage.

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It broke down late, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced an incredible looping header to draw United level and salvage a point with six minutes to go.

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]  

United had most of the early chances, with Anthony Martial sending one to the far post for Zlatan Ibrahimovic that was just out of the Swede’s outstretched leg on 13 minutes. A Liverpool mistake at the back nearly cost them, as Dejan Lovren‘s back-pass was too short and came to Ibrahimovic, but Simon Mignolet did just enough to see the ball land on the roof of the net with Zlatan waiting to pounce on the empty net. Moments later Paul Pogba was fed through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan but scuffed his shot just inches wide right.

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As Liverpool worked themselves into the game, they would press forward and win a penalty in the 27th minute. The ball popped up into the air in the United penalty area, and Pogba completely lost sight of it, finally getting a bead on it and awkwardly getting a head to it, but he also handled the ball in the process, and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. James Milner stepped up and buried the penalty to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.

United came close past the half-hour mark as Ibrahimovic delivered a venomous free-kick that forced Mignolet into a sharp save low to his right. Mignolet was required again five minutes from halftime as Mkhitaryan was played through by Ander Herrera, but Mignolet was there to parry the shot from a tight angle.

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The hosts made a surprising change out of the break, with manager Jose Mourinho replacing Michael Carrick with Wayne Rooney. They had the first chance out of the break but couldn’t capitalize. Ibrahimovic sprung Mkhitaryan down the right, and his heavy touch brought out Mignolet, but he was still able to get the ball into the middle where Anthony Martial was streaking in. Martial tried to rabona the ball into the empty net, but under pressure from Trent Alexander-Arnold he couldn’t get a touch.

Both teams brought on playmakers past the hour mark as Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho came on. Coutinho had a chance straightaway with a brilliant touch to Roberto Firmino whose close-range shot was saved by David De Gea.

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Wayne Rooney crashed his studs into the shin of James Milner, causing a bit of a delay and a bit of controversy, as replays showed he stepped over the ball onto Milner’s leg. No card was shown by the referee. Wayne Rooney nearly had a moment to remember, a goal away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at United but his 82nd minute shot was saved.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Man United, Liverpool ] 

As the game wore down and Liverpool defended comfortably, Mourinho brought on Marouane Fellaini and changed tactics, targeting Ibrahimovic and Fellaini with long balls instead of the flowing play they had been using prior. This caused Liverpool problems and produced a late equalizer, as Fellaini’s initial header clanged off the post, but it came back to Ibrahimovic who ducked down low and brilliantly looped a header into the corner in the 84th minute. There looked to be a missed offside call early in the buildup, but Liverpool’s frantic defending with the ball in the air did them in.

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There were some tense moments down the stretch, and a scuffle as well as Ander Herrera nearly ripped off Roberto Firmino’s shirt, and the Brazilian reacted violently, earning both yellow cards. The managers got into it at the same time, seeing Jurgen Klopp bouncing up and down mocking Mourinho.

The game ended level, leaving Liverpool third in the table, failing to take the opportunity to move into second. Manchester United will be disappointed with the point as well, up to 40 points and still in sixth, two points behind Manchester City.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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