Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield on Thursday, with the Reds now the heavy favorites to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals at the expense of their rivals.
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In truth, it could’ve been worse for United but David De Gea but in an inspired display to somehow keep the Red Devils in the tie. Just about, anyway.
The second leg takes place at Old Trafford next Thursday, as the first-ever European competition between these bitter rivals was a night to remember for Liverpool.
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Nathaniel Clyne burst into the box and Memphis seemed to pull back the Liverpool man just inside the box. Penalty kick to the Reds and a yellow card for Memphis.
Sturridge stepped up and slotted home the PK despite De Gea getting a touch on it, as Anfield erupted. 1-0 to Liverpool.
Buoyed by their opener Liverpool poured forward as Sturridge’s shot was mishit and found its way to Philippe Coutinho five-yards out but he too struggled to get clean contact and De Gea clawed the ball away to safety.
De Gea was again called into action in the first half as Chris Smalling slipped at a vital moment and the Sturridge was clean through on goal but his hammered effort was blocked by the sprawling Spaniard. De Gea also denied a point-blank effort from the brilliant Adam Lallana and United had their goalkeeper to thank for still being in the game at half time.
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De Gea, again, made a superb fingertip save from Coutinho who blasted a superb effort in on goal from distance, with the Red Devils struggling to create any opportunities of their own.
Henderson skewed an effort just wide after Lallana set him up, with the home side looking the most likely to add another rather than United grabbing an equalizer.
Soon after, Liverpool did go 2-0 up as Henderson was played in down the right — he looked to be just offside when the ball was initially played — and cut the ball back for Lallana who fed Firmino to finish at the Kop end. 2-0, and it was nothing more than the hosts deserved as the Brazilian attacker had his third goal in as many games.
Late on United pushed hard to grab a crucial away goal with Marouane Fellaini heading just wide but heading into the second leg at Old Trafford next week, they have to claw back a two-goal deficit after a hugely disappointing defeat to their fierce rivals.