Three things we learned from Liverpool vs. Manchester United

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LIVERPOOL — Liverpool and Manchester United battled to a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Monday.

[ MORE: Mourinho calls out Liverpool ]

A battle hyped up for days delivered few goalmouth chances with Jose Mourinho the happier of the two managers as his side set out their stall and Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool put in a lackluster display.

Here’s what we learned from a chilly night on Merseyside.


CLASSIC MOURINHO

If there’s a man on this planet who knows how to set up his teams to get a result away from home, it’s Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United’s manager can set up his teams to defend resolutely in his sleep and that’s exactly what he did.

With Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini clogging up midfield, his game plan worked a treat. Herrera was snapping away at the heels of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane whenever he got the chance and Fellaini was his partner in crime.

In truth, United were more adventurous in the opening exchanges. Mourinho’s men managed the match well. Early on they looked for Marcus Rashford out wide and Mourinho was urging Paul Pogba to surge forward in support of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but then midway through the first half they retreated. It was almost like he split the game up into four quarters.

The 0-0 scoreline at half time suited Mourinho and United perfectly and his side had a glorious chance to snatch a 1-0 win as Pogba’s cross found Zlatan at the back post but his tame header back across was horribly off target. United were in the game to create one clear-cut chance and take it. That turned out to be the one chance. Still, Mourinho will be happy to take a point back to Old Trafford as he set up his stall expertly and Liverpool played into his hands.


STURRIDGE REMAINS ODD MAN OUT

One of the reasons Liverpool did that was their lack of fluidity in the final third.

You could forgive Daniel Sturridge for cutting a frustrated figure up front in the first half. Nobody in a red shirt was near him in the first half and that was indicative of both his lackluster display and the frustration the attacking trio behind him suffered from.

If Adam Lallana had been fit, Sturridge wouldn’t have started. Even if Sturridge’s scoring record speaks for itself (he’s scored 43 goals in 75 PL appearances for Liverpool) you just get the sense that as long as Jurgen Klopp is the manager at Anfield, it won’t work out for Sturridge. His trademark runs off the last shoulder of a defender aren’t suited to this team and he is too static up top. He’s an old fashioned No.9 in a team which doesn’t need one.

You couldn’t fault his work rate but with a fluid four frontmen of Firmino, Adam Lallana, Mane and Coutinho, Klopp’s formula works better with them in the team. That was evident after Lallana replaced Sturridge in the 60th minute as Liverpool’s attacking fluidity and rhythm returned. Coutinho tested David De Gea from distance and United’s stopper produced a magnificent save and then Antonio Valencia produced a superb last-ditch tackle to stop Firmino who was clean through following Coutinho’s flick. The last 30 minutes proved there’s simply no room for Sturridge’s strengths in this Liverpool attack.


TOO CLOSE TO CALL

It is still early days but both Liverpool and United showed that a top four finish, their main aim for this season, is very achievable. So early in the season, this game between two bitter rivals saw both teams fail to go for broke. United will be the happier of the two with this result and Liverpool badly missed Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield as they failed to break through the first line of United’s midfield and get attacks going.

On another day and with Wijnaldum and a fully-fit Lallana, you might think Liverpool could’ve taken the game to United more.

United look solid if yet unspectacular but we mustn’t forget that Mourinho has had a few months in charge at United to gel this team and get his ideas across. Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool was a year ago today at Tottenham and yes, there has been huge progress in those 12 months, but the German coach will be left with a nagging feeling that his side could’ve got more if they’d taken more chances.

When this season is over both United and Liverpool will be right in the mix to fight for the top four but on this showing a title push may be just out of reach when you look at the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. It’s early days and it’s too close to call which of these teams will fare better this season.

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup

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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

Man arrested after English soccer player reports homophobia

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TRANMERE, England — A footballer in England’s third tier reported being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands, leading to police making one arrest.

Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop told the referee of the abuse at halftime of the League One soccer game at Tranmere as his team won 2-0.

Tranmere says it is very disappointed to learn of a homophobic comment made.

In a statement, Merseyside Police condemned abhorrent incidents.

Police Chief Inspector Jason Crellin added that “hate crime has no place in our communities, and not least at a showcase sporting event attended and watched by many people.”

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

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Brazil became Under-17 world champions for a fourth time in dramatic fashion as Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ scored a 93rd-minute winner to edge Mexico 2-1 at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

Brazil’s comeback started in the 84th minute when Kaio Jorge converted from the penalty spot, following VAR’s decision which ruled contact on the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, Gabriel Veron, inside the 18-yard box.

With Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Cafu in attendance, the host’s had the better of chances throughout the first 45 minutes. Without any luck, however, Brazil were unable to get the ball past Eduardo Garcia, instead hitting the bar on several occasions.

Then in the 66th minute, Mexico – winners of the tournament in 2005 and in 2011 – stunned the home crowd when Bronze Ball winner Eugenio Pizzoto’s cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan, breaking the deadlock between two sides that had met in the same game back in 2005.

What was going to be a stunning, underdog victory for El Tri, turned into a heartbreaking night for Marco “Chima” Ruiz and company.

Brazil, on the other hand, are now only one championship away from tying Nigeria’s record of five championships.

EURO qualifying wrap: France, Iceland, Turkey earn wins

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With their tickets already booked to next summer’s big tournament, France and Turkey picked up wins in Sunday’s Euro qualifying action, which saw defending champions Portugal clinch qualification.

[ READ: Defending champions Portugal qualify to EURO 2020 ]


Albania 0-2 France

Albania opened their new, 22,500-seat stadium with a hard-fought loss against France.

Early on, Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso gave the impression that the home fans were in for a long night at the inaugurating Air Albania Stadium, opening the score just eight minutes in with a well-placed header. In the 31st minute, an unfamiliar face, Leo Dubois, connected with Antoine Griezmann, who slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner. France finish the qualifiers leaders of Group H with 25 points. Throughout the 10 matches, the world champions lost only once, a 2-0 loss against Turkey.

Andorra 0-2 Turkey

Real Valladolid’s Enes Unal scored a first-half brace as Turkey coasted past Andorra 2-0. Turkey, who clinched a spot next summer after finishing Group H two points behind France, controlled possession and chances at goal.

Moldova 1-2 Iceland

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the visitor’s second and winning goal in the second half, as Iceland walked away from Zimbru Stadium with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

With 19 points throughout 10 games, Rúnar Kristinsson and company felt five points short of qualifying directly for next year’s competition. That said, they’ll partake in the Euro 2020 playoffs, looking to squeeze their way in.

Elsewhere

Luxembourg 0-2 Portugal

Serbia 2-2 Ukraine

Kosovo 0-4 England

Bulgaria 1-0 Czech Republic