Liverpool kept their top-four hopes alive following an impressive 4-2 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Despite fan protests outside Old Trafford once again threatening to impact proceedings, the previously postponed encounter went ahead without delay, the visitors almost making the worst possible start after Alisson gifted the ball to the in-form Edinson Cavani, yet the Uruguayan dragged his effort wide.
That lead eventually came just minutes later, however, Manchester United captain on the night Bruno Fernandes seeing his outside-of-the-boot strike cannon off Nathaniel Phillips and into the net following good work from Aaron Wan-Bissaka down the right.
At the other end of the pitch, the visitors were perhaps controversially denied a penalty midway through the second-half, United defender Eric Bailly having been initially adjudged to have caught Phillips inside the area, before VAR intervened, with on-field referee Anthony Taylor reversing his original decision after consulting the pitchside monitor.
After being involved in the opening goal and the penalty debacle, Phillips then helped his side grab a deserved equaliser, the centre-back’s initial wayward strike finding Diogo Jota, who reacted superbly to flick past Dean Henderson.
Buoyed by the goal, Liverpool took control in the closing stages of the half and made that dominance count just before the interval, Roberto Firmino heading home at the back post following a typically pinpoint Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick.
Klopp’s men extended their lead right at the start of the second-half, some schoolboy defensive play from the hosts culminating in an Alexander-Arnold effort on goal, the strike poorly dealt with by Henderson, who fumbled the ball into the path of Firmino to tuck home his second.
It could have been four soon after, as Jota saw his effort strike the woodwork, before Marcus Rashford gave his side a glimmer of hope with a well-taken finish following a Cavani through ball.
Mohamed Salah in all competitions for Liverpool:
◎ 200 appearances
◉ 124 goals
Capping his 200th appearance with another goal this evening. pic.twitter.com/Etz4OAtGrU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 13, 2021
Substitute Mason Greenwood then saw his close-range effort blocked off the line by the heavily involved Phillips, although they couldn’t quite conjure an equaliser, the visitors eventually securing victory with an excellent breakaway goal from Mo Salah.
That result has moved the Reds into fifth and just four points off Chelsea in fourth, with Klopp seemingly delighted to pick up what was a crucial first win at Old Trafford as Liverpool boss.
“Great fight, good game, intense – all derbies should be – and my first win at Old Trafford. Good timing I would say. We needed it. We deserved it. All good,” he told Sky Sports.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss appeared particularly pleased with how his side responded to going behind, while also picking out Trent Alexander-Arnold for his magnificent display.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 13, 2021
“Top goals. We reacted really well to their goal. We were unlucky in that moment. Bruno Fernandes, we let him go inside. It was unlucky in the centre but the defending in that moment was not good. We didn’t do that well in the first 15 minutes but then we got control and we could play the way we wanted to play.
“It was good. All good performances. Our two centre-halves were a little shaky at the beginning of the game with passes but then did a really good game. Trent was in proper shape tonight and played pretty much everything.
“They couldn’t chip the ball through to Bruno Fernandes any more and step by step we got control of the game. It was of course tricky at 3-2 but we scored that fourth goal. We needed that. It was very intense. I really thought the midfield played outstanding well. When Curtis Jones came on he helped a lot. It was good.”
Despite clinching a vital win, wideman Sadio Mane was clearly frustrated at full-time after having been left out of the starting lineup in favour of eventual goalscorer Diogo Jota, although Klopp appeared unconcerned by the Senegal international’s reaction.
“No there’s no problem. Yesterday I made a late decision in training to go with Diogo Jota. I would usually explain it but there was no time for that. It is all fine.”
With just three games left to play this season, the Reds are now firmly in the mix to challenge for a top-four spot, two very winnable games to come against relegated West Bromwich Albion and Sean Dyche’s Burnley on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.
“We are still in the game, in the race. That is all we could have done tonight. It is very intense. We have to recover quickly and go again. We played a good game and did good enough to win so obviously we did a lot of right stuff tonight.”