Kuala Lumpur Post


Liverpool frustrated as Man Utd show spirit in defiant draw

LIVERPOOL — Liverpool missed a chance to return to the top of the Premier League as troubled Manchester United finally showed some fighting spirit in a gritty 0-0 draw on Sunday.

United had Diogo Dalot sent off for dissent in the final seconds of stoppage time at Anfield, but Liverpool had long since run out of ideas in the face of the visitors’ defiant display.

Having started the weekend in top spot, Liverpool kicked off in third place after wins for Arsenal and Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated a dour clash against their hated rivals, but lacked the cutting edge required to extend their winning run in the league to four matches.

Liverpool sit in second place, one point behind leaders Arsenal ahead of their summit meeting with the Gunners at Anfield on Saturday.

“I saw a lot of good things, the one thing I don’t like is the result. We should have scored,” Klopp said.

“I can’t remember such a dominant performance against Man Utd, but they defended with a lot of passion.”

While Liverpool were left frustrated after failing to win at home for the first time in 12 games in all competitions, for United the result was a step in the right direction after another dismal week.

Ravaged by injuries and missing suspended captain Bruno Fernandes, United showed the kind of tenacity absent for much of a turbulent campaign.

Last weekend’s home humbling by Bournemouth was followed by a 1-0 defeat against Bayern Munich on Tuesday that condemned United to a meek Champions League group stage exit.

Erik ten Hag’s team were back at Anfield for the first time since being hammered there 7-0 in March, an abject surrender that ranked among the most humiliating defeats in the club’s history.

They remain without a win at Anfield since 2016, but after so many chastening visits over the last seven years, the under-fire Ten Hag left grateful for small mercies as United avoided more embarrassment.

“The game-plan went well, the players were brilliant how they stuck together and were in the fight,” Ten Hag said.

In keeping with the toxic nature of English football’s most bitter rivalry, Liverpool were forced to “utterly condemn” the fans who bombarded United’s team bus with missiles before the game, leading to a window being smashed by a glass bottle.

That ugly scene was followed by a scrappy game equally short on appealing qualities.

Without a goal in his last nine games, Darwin Nunez couldn’t convert Mohamed Salah’s lobbed cross as he stretched in vain at the far post.

Salah has enjoyed tormenting United in the past and he nearly bagged another goal at their expense when his close-range effort was deflected wide after Andre Onana failed to hold Nunez’s header.

Liverpool’s territorial dominance produced eight corners in the first 30 minutes, with Virgil van Dijk almost turning one into the opening goal as his header was pushed over by Onana.

Ibrahima Konate headed wastefully over from yet another Liverpool corner, but despite the Reds’ sustained pressure, United were organised enough to keep Klopp’s men at bay.

A frustrating half for Liverpool ended fittingly when Salah’s strike from a good position inside the area was comfortably saved by Onana. — AFP

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