Philippe Coutinho‘s first half wizardry lifted Liverpool past rivals Manchester United and into the quarterfinals of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw on Thursday helped the Reds to a 3-1 aggregate win in the Round of 16.
Anthony Martial‘s 32nd minute penalty kick gave the match plenty of hope for excitement, but United would get no closer than 2-1 on aggregate.
Like the first leg at Anfield, it could’ve been much worse for United if not for the stellar goalkeeping from David De Gea.
The tie was the first European tournament meeting between the two sides.
The first 17 minutes didn’t see much action, but Simon Mignolet was called to make a quick reaction save on Jesse Lingard in the 18th. The Belgian keeper slapped Lingard’s header out for a corner that United managed to clear.
Anthony Martial soon followed with a chance of his own, but sailed the Marcus Rashford-provided opportunity over the bar.
David De Gea (right) was fantastic again, making a terrific diving one-handed stop on Roberto Firmino soon after Martial’s chance, and the match really picked up momentum.
And then a penalty to United, as Martial faked a shot that caused Nathaniel Clyne to pause just long enough to allow the Frenchman to skate by him. Clyne chopped at his ankle, Martial went down, and the youngster finished the chance he won.
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2 – Anthony Martial has scored in back to back games for Manchester United for the first time since September 2015. Timely.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 17, 2016
An odd-angled free kick turned out to be a legit scoring chance when Daniel Sturridge whipped a free kick over a leaping De Gea but off the cross bar.
And Jurgen Klopp was left head in hands when he worked a 1-2 with Philippe Coutinho but sliced a must-have opportunity over the bar from the penalty spot.
Rojo missed a gorgeous chance at the other end, as Marouane Fellaini saved a long ball that seemed destined for a goal kick. The Belgian cut back for Rojo, who hit his left-footed shot wide of the near post.
The clock hit 45:00 seconds after Coutinho scored his goal, roasting Guillermo Varela on the left wing before scooping the ball over a splayed De Gea to make it 1-1 in the match and 3-1 on aggregate.
De Gea made a strong stop on Coutinho in the late stages, while Milner should’ve been whistled for a late hand ball in the box.
The 3,000-person road support made sure Old Trafford stayed loud as the game progressed, and it became clear United didn’t have the horses to score the three goals they’d need to overcome their deficit. Jurgen Klopp was onto the next one, while LVG’s chances of silverware hinge on the FA Cup.