Liverpool’s disappointing run of results continued as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat in an entertaining game against rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round.
The two sides played out a less than exciting 0-0 draw just a week ago, and it was a cagey opening this time out too, though the game burst into life after 18 minutes as the Merseyside outfit struck the first blow.
Roberto Firmino dropped deeper to get on the ball, before he played an excellent defence-splitting ball into forward partner, Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian took a touch, kept his composure and lifted the ball over Dean Henderson for his first-ever goal at Old Trafford.
The goal seemed to give Liverpool belief, though just as it looked as if they were probing for a second, Paul Pogba put in an excellent tackle on the edge of his own box before the ball was released to Marcus Rashford on the left flank. The England international produced a quality measured ball over the visitors defence into the path of the onrushing Mason Greenwood, who took a touch with his chest before firing low past Alisson with his right to restore parity.
Manchester United marginally shaded the better of the play in the first half, and within three minutes of the restart they edged in front, Mason Greenwood repaying the favour to Marcus Rashford with a ball in behind the Liverpool defence, leaving the Red Devils number 10 to slot calmly under the Brazilian ‘keeper.
Jurgen Klopp’s side hauled themselves back level just before the hour mark, capitalising on a sloppy loss of possession from Edinson Cavani. The ball was worked into Firmino who played a cute ball into the box which was well left by James Milner, before Salah netted his second of the afternoon as he put it through the legs of Henderson from 12 yards.
Having looked off-colour for a number of weeks, Liverpool looked like they were starting to produce some of their best football as they went in search of a winner, but with 12 minutes to go, it was Manchester United who regained the lead. Cavani was brought down on the edge of the box by Fabinho, before substitute Bruno Fernandes stepped up and despatched an excellent free-kick past Alisson.
Liverpool’s record since they beat Crystal Palace 7-0:
Drew 1-1 vs. West Brom
Drew 0-0 vs. Newcastle
Lost 0-1 vs. Southampton
Won 4-1 vs. Aston Villa (U23)
Drew 0-0 vs. Man Utd
Lost 0-1 vs. Burnley
Lost 2-3 vs. Man Utd
What’s happened to the champions? pic.twitter.com/hkJZoxHwdG
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 24, 2021
The result means Jurgen Klopp is still yet to progress further than the fifth round of the FA Cup since he moved to English football, while it means they have won just one of their last seven outings in all competitions.
Speaking afterwards, Jurgen Klopp insisted that there were positives to take out of the game but admitted his side were not at their best.
“There was a lot of good things and some mistakes around the goals,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “If you want to win here you have to be absolutely top and we were not.
“For the first goal we had no protection, we wanted it too much. Things like this should not happen but they can happen. We had too many platers in a receiving position.
“We can take things out of this game, we try to learn from every game. It’s good for Mo Salah, good for the confidence. It was a tough game. We want it hard but tonight it was not enough.
“If you win a game there are negatives, if you lose a game too, but I saw the boys really, really wanted it. We had problems on the counter-attack, it was intense, but there were positives.”
Liverpool are next in action on Thursday night in yet another high-profile game against top-four hopefuls, Tottenham.