Player ratings from Manchester United’s win vs. Liverpool

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Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield on Sunday with Louis Van Gaal prevailing for the fourth time in a row against United’s bitter rivals.

It was a tense game on Merseyside with Jurgen Klopp‘s side dominating the opening 60 minutes but failing to find a way past the brilliant David De Gea.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned | Recap ]

Wayne Rooney‘s record-breaking goal (his 176th for United in the PL, more than any other player for a single club in league history) delivered a crucial three points for United as they keep up their hopes of finishing in the top four, plus hurt Liverpool’s chances of challenging for UEFA Champions League qualification in the process.

Below is a mark out of 10 for each player who took the field on Sunday, plus a brief review of how they fared.


Liverpool

Simon Mignolet – 6 – Couldn’t do anything on the goal. Few bad clearances but was hardly troubled.

Nathaniel Clyne – 5 – Failed to get forward and seems to be tailing off in second half of the season.

Kolo Toure – 6 – Typically committed and made some important tackles in the second half.

Mamadou Sakho – 6 – See above. Could have been more dominant in aerial challenge that led to Rooney’s goal.

Alberto Moreno – 5 – Like Clyne, failed to get forward as much. Wasn’t tested defensively.

Lucas Leiva – 7 – Snapped into challenges and thread through some lovely balls. Good display.

Emre Can – 7 – Another who forced the issue and forced De Gea into a fine stop.

Jordan Henderson – 6 – Tried too hard at times but was often involved in clever play on edge of the box.

James Milner – 6 – Plenty of hard running, as always, but skied a shot in the first half.

Adam Lallana – 5 – Should have scored early and despite clever link-up play that key pass, shot always seems to evade him.

Roberto Firmino – 7 – Went close in the first and second half, always a threat and United didn’t know how to handle him.

Subs: Jordon Ibe (5- Little time to make an impact), Christian Benteke (4- Should have come on sooner), Caulker (N/A)


Manchester United

David de Gea – 9 (Man of the Match) – Made a good stop from Lallana in the first half and denied Can twice in the second. Superb display. Worth his weight in gold.

Ashley Young – 5 – Injured after 42 minutes. Was struggling to contain Liverpool’s attacks and failed to really get forward.

Chris Smalling – 6 – Did okay. Stood his ground and handled Benteke late on.

Daley Blind – 6 – Few good interceptions and always looking to play out of the back.

Matteo Darmian – 6 – Switched from left to right back when Young went off. Steady Eddie.

Jesse Lingard – 5 – Really didn’t get involved in the game at all. Subbed out in 66th minute for Mata.

Morgan Schneiderlin – 6 – Looked lost in first half. Got on the ball in second to help United grab a foothold.

Ander Herrera – 5 – Same as Schneiderlin. Subbed out in 72nd minute for Memphis.

Marouane Fellaini – 6 – Flicked header came off the bar and fell to Rooney for the goal. Lucky to get away with early stamp. Booked.

Anthony Martial – 6 – Flashed a shot just wide in the second half and caused problems with incisive running into the box.

Wayne Rooney – 7 – When United needed him most he delivered with a cool finish. The talisman is in red-hot form (5 goals in 4 games) despite being isolated for most of this game.

Subs: Cameron Borthwick-Jones (6 – Youngster slotted in and even surged forward late on), Juan Mata (6 – Great cross which led to the goal), Memphis (5 – Little time to have an impact but looked sharp)

Pogba, De Gea ruled out for Man United v. Liverpool

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According to our partners at Sky Sports, Manchester United’s David De Gea and Paul Pogba will not play against Liverpool this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

This is far from ideal for a United side already low in confidence after a dreadful start to the season.

De Gea injured his groin while on international duty with Spain on Tuesday as he injured an abductor while kicking a ball against Sweden in a EURO 2020 qualifier. He is expected to have a full assessment in Manchester on Thursday but isn’t expected to be available to play against Liverpool.

As for Pogba, he suffered a reoccurrence of his foot injury before the international break and has been training in Dubai on his own during the past week to try and speed up his recovery.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already been without Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for large chunks of the season so far, as Man United sit in 12th place in the Premier League table.

“No chance,” Solskjaer said of Pogba’s availability for the weekend. “Paul had an injury, then came back, worked really hard, played a couple of games. Maybe played through the pain barrier. We had a scan after the Arsenal game and he needed a few weeks rest in the boot. Hopefully he won’t be too long but he won’t make this game, no.”

Not having their star goalkeeper and central midfielder available for this clash with bitter rivals Liverpool is another huge setback for Solskjaer, as Sergio Romero and Fred will likely start in their place.

Martial, Shaw and Wan-Bissaka are all expected to miss the game against Liverpool too as Solskjaer will at least have a valid excuse if the Premier League leaders give United a hiding on Sunday.

Bulgaria’s coach apologizes to England; Popov slams racists

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Bulgaria’s coach Krasimir Balakov has apologized to the England national team after they were subjected to racist chants during their EURO 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.

Balakov was previously bullish about racism in Bulgaria, stating before the game that England had a bigger problem with racism than Bulgaria.

Initially after the game he said he didn’t hear any racist abuse and during the match he got into a heated debate with Jordan Henderson about why the game was halted for a second time.

In a post on Facebook, Balakov apaolgized to the England players and offered his views on the racist incidents plaguing Bulgarian soccer as three of their EURO 2020 home qualifiers have now seen racist abuse from their home fans.

“I condemn unconditionally all forms of racism as unacceptable behavior that contradicts normal human relationships. I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and nobody should ever be subjected, Balakov said. “I trained many Bulgarian teams with players of different backgrounds and never judged anyone about the color of their skin. In addition, I have always actively participated in all initiatives involving unprivileged people or the needy.”

“My comments before the game against England that Bulgaria had no problems with racism are based on the fact that the local championship has not seen such a problem on a large scale. There may have been isolated cases, but it’s definitely not something you see in the stadium. The majority of football fans do not take part in such chants, and I believe that was also the case in the game against England. One thing I would like to say very clearly is that as the stadium in Sofia has reported cases of racial discrimination, I sincerely apologize to the English footballers and those who feel offended.”

That is what Balakov should have said right after the game.

The cynics out there may also say he is only issuing this apology now after Bulgaria’s prime minister, Boyko Borissov, asked for the president of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign.

Mihaylov, who had previously complained to UEFA England boss Gareth Southgate sharing his concerns over previous racist incidents in Bulgaria, resigned on Tuesday.

After Bulgaria’s goalkeeper said England’s players “overreacted” in regards to the racist abuse hurled their way, their captain, Ivelin Popov, handled himself remarkably well throughout this sorry situation for Bulgaria.

Popov was seen remonstrating with home fans at half time in order to get them to stop the abuse, and he was praised by Marcus Rashford and others for his reaction.

“Of course I feel embarrassed. We are 11 v 11, it doesn’t matter your color, it’s no problem, we are all the same, we are one very big family in football, everybody and only we, if we are together, can we stop these bad things,” Popov said. “It was important that I spoke like this because it’s a very big problem for everybody, for our federation, for England and if they said more bad words, even one more time, then maybe they would finish the game.

“We would have such a big punishment and this is no good for Bulgarian football because if some other players want to come here, they hear what is said and how they speak bad, then this is no good for everybody. But when you start to speak to them, afterwards they understand. I think in the second half was better.”

Sergio Aguero unhurt after car crash

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Manchester City and Argentina star Sergio Aguero has escaped a car crash unscathed.

Aguero, 31, was involved in the incident on Wednesday morning but didn’t need to go to hospital and instead reported for training as usual with Man City.

Photos showed Aguero’s Range Rover badly damaged, as he posted photos of his car on his own Instagram page later on Wednesday.

The reigning Premier League champions head to Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as they aim to momentarily reduce Liverpool’s eight-point lead atop the table.

Aguero will likely be leading City’s line at Palace, as the Argentine striker has been in sensational form this season (even if City’s defensive line hasn’t) with eight goals in the opening eight games of the PL campaign.

Man City’s all-time leading goalscorer was previously involved in a car crash in Amsterdam in 2017, something which Pep Guardiola didn’t seem too pleased about at the time as Aguero had travelled to the Netherlands to attend a music concert.

This incident was a minor one and City will be thankful that Aguero is fine and able to lead what they hope is a very successful few months to put themselves back in contention for a third-straight Premier League title.

Why USMNT’s Christian Pulisic was subbed off v. Canada

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Christian Pulisic was not a happy man when he was subbed off in the second half of the USMNT’s damaging defeat to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.

[ MORE: What now for Berhalter, USMNT?

He didn’t look injured and after walking off the pitch he was visibly upset as Gregg Berhalter spoke to him on the bench.

But there’s a perfectly simple explanation for this: Pulisic was sick.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]

USMNT head coach Berhalter revealed why he subbed out Pulisic in the 60th minute of their 2-0 defeat to Canada in Toronto on Tuesday, as Pulisic was suffering from “cold and flu-like” symptoms.

“He wanted to continue. You could see the disappointment in his face, and we had to make that decision,” Berhalter said. “We made the decision based on being not sure how much he had left. We wanted to inject some energy into the team.”

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Now, Berhalter is obviously telling the truth here, but perhaps it was a convenient excuse as Pulisic wasn’t playing his best.

Pulisic, 21, struggled against Canada and missed the USMNT’s best opportunity, as he was played in by Jordan Morris and hit his shot from 10 yards out straight at Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

In truth, it was a tough chance with the way the ball was played to him, but Pulisic knew he should have done better and moments later he was on the bench and then the USMNT were 1-0 down.

Things aren’t going Pulisic’s way right now and Tuesday night summed that up.

There is a ridiculous amount of pressure on his shoulders to single-handedly lift the USMNT out of a two-year long slump, and given the fact he has only played a handful of minutes for Chelsea over the past two months, getting a cold as he heads back to England is far from ideal.

Berhalter’s reasoning for taking off Pulisic makes sense, as he is the one U.S. player who is talented enough to make something out of nothing. But right now we aren’t seeing the best of Pulisic, and that’s probably down to his lack of playing time at Chelsea.

It’s too early to say whether or not that will impact his form for the USMNT in the months ahead, but there’s no doubting the Stars and Stripes need their best player to stand tall for the game against Canada in Orlando next month.