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Dublin: 10Β°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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WELCOME TO OUR coverage of this evening’s FA Cup tie between Manchester United and Liverpool. It’s a second clash of these two great rivals in the space of seven days…what a month it has been. 

But here’s hoping today’s Cup tie will be more entertaining than the league draw at Anfield a week ago. (We’re confident it will be – it can hardly be much worse.) 

Liverpool desperately need to kick-start their season: they have won just one of their last six games (and that was the FA Cup tie to Aston Villa’s youth side) and haven’t scored in their last four league games. 

Not that today augurs well. Liverpool have a poor record at Old Trafford under Klopp – he has never won here – and an even worse record under him in the FA Cup: only once has he taken Liverpool beyond the fourth round. 

United, meanwhile, are brimming with confidence, and though the FA Cup might not be highest on their priorities this season, they will relish the chance to further knock Liverpool’s season. 

Get in touch – comment below the line or email gavincooney@the42.ie

Kick off at Old Trafford is at 5pm, and team news follows next…

Team News 

Manchester United 

Spotted: Donny Van de Beek. The Dutchman gets a rare opportunity to impress from the start for United this evening, starting in a pretty strong team that includes Pogba, Greenwood, Rashford, and Cavani. 

Bruno Fernandes drops to the bench, where is joined by David De Gea – Dean Henderson gets a chance to impress in goal. 

Liverpool 

Liverpool have instead stuck with their first-choice goalkeeper, meaning Caoimhin Kelleher remains on the bench with Alisson Becker starting. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino return to the starting line-up, and are the only attackers in the team with Curtis Jones, Gini Wijnaldum, Thiago and James Milner picked behind them. 

Joel Matip is out again – seemingly through rest rather than another injury – so Rhys Williams starts. 

Does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have any experience of facing Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup, you ask? 

Liverpool have run out of goals, but this isn’t exactly the boldest line-up Klopp could have selected. Perhaps we will see their traditional 4-3-3 with Curtis Jones playing on the left of the front three, or a 4-2-3-1. 

Klopp has openly spoken about finding solutions to Liverpool’s ongoing problems – perhaps he will stumble across something that works today. 

“It’s one of the most iconic FA Cup ties and it can give you very good momentum and belief, like it did in ’99″, Solskjaer tells the BBC pre-game. 

United are doing some rotation today…but there’s still some pretty decent talent on the pitch. 

manchester-united-v-liverpool-emirates-fa-cup-fourth-round-old-trafford Source: PA

Liverpool are first out, wearing their appalling teal third kit. 

United follow shortly after – kick off is only minutes away. 

This one will be better than last Sunday’s game. Hopefully. 

Peeeeep! 

We’re underway at Old Trafford! 

Craig Pawson is the referee, and a quick reminder that there are no replays in the FA cup this season, so we’ll have a winner at some stage tonight. Even if it takes penalties. 

1′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Fast start by Liverpool, with Alexander-Arnold’s cut back finding Wijnaldum, whose rather tame shot is blocked by Lindelof and hoofed clear. 

We wondered how Liverpool would set up – seems it’s their standard 4-3-3 with Curtis Jones on the left of the attack. 

4′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

United win a corner, as Rhys Williams blocks a cross about to drop for van de Beek. The move began with Salah losing possession to Shaw, and Rashford – rather ominously for Liverpool – skating by Williams with ease. 

Liverpool clear the corner. 

6′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Rashford has pulled on to the left, and looks lethal when running against Alexander-Arnold and Williams. 

This time Rashford cleverly pulls a first-time ball in behind the Liverpool defence, and Alisson does well to sprint out of his box and head the ball out of danger. 

United are taking control of this game. 

8′ Man United 0-0 Liverpool

Milner cleans Maguire out with a late tackle in midfield, but the referee plays advantage and Milner escapes without a booking. 

10′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool

This game is livelier than last week’s already!

Fabinho and Thiago get mixed up in midfield, Greenwood pounces and sprints into the box. Rather than pull the ball back for Van de Beek, he shoots from a tight angle and a splayed Alisson blocks the ball with his foot. 

Liverpool counter, and at the other end, Henderson does well to divert a fizzed Alexander-Arnold cross away from trouble. 

12′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Thiago is exasperated: he tackles McTominay and the ball breaks to set up a Liverpool counter…but is foiled by Pawson’s whistle. 

14′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Greenwood fires wide in the penalty area, as Williams’ indecision was caught out by Cavani. 

17′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Liverpool keep possession for a while, but they lack penetration until Robertson zips a terrific pass through the United defence for Milner, but Lindelof shuttles across and deals with the danger.

17′ – Man United 0-0 Liverpool 

Rashford looks electric: he saunters into the box until he is dispossessed by Alexander-Arnold. The subsequent corner is volleyed goalward by Pogba, but it’s a scruffy connection and it is easy for Alisson. 

18′ – GOAL! Man United 0-1 Liverpool (Salah)

And the drought ends!

Liverpool finally attack with some conviction and the result is a classic Liverpool goal. 

Firmino drops deep and slides a perfect pass between Shaw and Maguire for Salah, who coolly chips Henderson. 

21′ – Man United 0-1 Liverpool 

That was a gorgeous goal by Liverpool – and one of such composure that it’s almost 21′ - impossible to think it arrived after such a wretched run in front of goal. 

The confidence is flowing now: they swarm Pogba in traditional fashion, and the result is a Jones shot from distance that Henderson keeps hold of. 

23′ – Man United 0-1 Liverpool 

It’s all Liverpool now, as Firmino is chopped down by McTominay right on the edge of the box. 

24′ – Man United 0-1 Liverpool 

Alexander-Arnold curls the free-kick tamely over the bar. 

26′ – GOAL! Man United 1-1 Liverpool (Greenwood) 

Aaaaand out of nothing, United are level! 

Pogba wins the ball back on the edge of United’s box, and Rashford lofts a perfect cross-field pass from the touchline for Greenwood, who rifles the ball beyond Alisson! 

27′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Liverpool almost undone on the counter again! 

Rashford is again left in oceans of space behind Alexander-Arnold, he runs at Williams and threads the ball through for van de Beek, but Alisson deflects the ball away. 

32 - Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

After that fantastic bout of punch and counter-punch, the game has settled down, with Liverpool having the majority of the ball. But United – particularly Rashford – look lethal on the counter attack. 

35′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Liverpool take a short corner, Thiago lofts the ball to Salah…who loses it, and five seconds later, Thiago fouls Rashford before he gambols clear on goal. Tory ministers have done a better job dealing with Rashford than Liverpool have thus far. 

35′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Shaw flights the free-kick into the box and Williams heads the ball over his own crossbar. Shaw stays on corner duties, and Pogba heads over from the penalty spot. He was completely free, and should have done better.

37′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

39′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Better from Liverpool: Milner side-foots a terrific pass for Robertson, who dinks the ball to the back post and Shaw heads behind for a corner. 

McTominay heads the corner clear, and Milner scuffs a volley miles wide.

43′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Fabinho is booked as Liverpool make a hames of playing out from the back. Alisson’s pass is loose, and Fabinho swipes at Greenwood and takes him down on the edge of the box. 

Interesting position here for United… 

43′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

…Pogba steps up and curls the free-kick well wide of Alisson’s left-hand post.

44′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Liverpool are again undone down their right flank: Shaw gets in behind the Liverpool defence and whips a ball across the box that is parried away by Alisson, and Thiago gets in front of the follow-up shot from McTominay. 

United have been the better team since equalising. 

45′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Rashford is terrorising Liverpool. He skips by Rhys Williams – this is a painful mismatch – he saunters into the box and lays the ball back for Greenwood, who lays it off for Pogba, who sees a whipped shot fly narrowly wide of Alisson’s left-hand post.

HT – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Terrific, see-sawing entertainment, and the game is is balanced for the moment. Both sides have had their moments, but United finished the game in the ascendancy, and it does look like Rashford has the winning of this game on his own. 

We’ll be back in a few minutes. 

A very good point by Alan Shearer on the Beeb, regarding Liverpool’s being torn asunder by Marcus Rashford on the right flank: Jordan Henderson’s absence is being felt, given he so often does the covering work behind Alexander-Arnold. 

Wijnaldum is supposed to be doing that job at the moment, but he’s not been particularly effective at it. 

Peeeeep! 

The second-half at Old Trafford is underway!

46′ – Man United 1-1 Liverpool 

Pogba apologises to Wijnaldum, having clawed him accidentally in the face in fending him off. United, however, have a free-kick…and are promptly penalised themselves once Shaw hoists the ball to the edge of the box. 

GOAL! Man United 2-1 Liverpool (Rashford) 

United take the lead! 

And it is…precisely who you would imagine. 

Greenwood arcs a ball through for Rashford, but Williams makes a total hames of trying to clear it and the ball breaks easily for Rashford, who slots coolly beyond Alisson. Terrific finish, but it’s a horrible error by Rhys Williams. 

52′ – Man United 2-1 Liverpool 

This game has been pretty even bar the enormous mismatch between Rashford and Rhys Williams, so it’s fitting it is on that duel the game has turned. 

Williams is beyond eliciting rage from Liverpool fans online, and has now moved on to pity: he really does look out of his depth. 

Here’s the goal that gave United the lead. 

56′ – Man United 2-1 Liverpool 

Some promising play by Salah and Firmino on the edge of the box is thwarted by an utterly awful touch by Firmino. Liverpool haven’t really recovered from United’s equaliser. 

57′ – Man United 2-1 Liverpool 

What a chance for Milner! 

Thiago lofts the ball forward, Firmino flocks on and Milner, from six yards out, fires miles over the crossbar! 

58′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool (Salah)

And now they are level! 

Milner steps up to intercept a Cavani pass, gives the ball to Firmino, and then clever dummies the return pass for Salah, whose shot goes through Henderson’s legs. 

Brilliant response by Milner, and Liverpool are back in the game! 

60′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

And now Liverpool are on top; this is fantastic entertainment. Thiago wriggles into space in midfield, finds Salah who shuffles the ball right to Alexander-Arnold, and his stinging shot is beaten away by Henderson. 

Sadio Mane is on his way into the game soon, too. 

61′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Klopp plays his main card: Mane off, and Wijnaldum is off. 

66′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Double change for United: Fred and Bruno Fernandes are on; Greenwood and Van de Beek make way. 

Van de Beek didn’t make much of an impact, it must be said.

67′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Bis save Henderson! Firmino drops deep to play quarterback and chooses to slip through Salah, who sees his shot blocked by the United goalkeeper. 

70′ - Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Wan-Bissaka does superbly at the back post to head the ball clear with Mane lurking. Liverpool’s interplay has zip and confidence again; that was preceded by lovely link-up play involving Alexander-Arnold, Jones and Salah. 

Moments later, Mane gets a booking for flying too zealously into a challenge with Fred. 

71′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Alisson is briefly alarmed, Paddy Cullen-style, as Fernandes miscues a cross that looked for a moment as if it might sneak under the crossbar. It didn’t, in the end, nestling on the roof of the net. 

72′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

More good interchange from Firmino, Alexander-Arnold and Jones ends with Thiago spinning a volley over Henderson’s crossbar. 

73′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Liverpool are pressing like the Liverpool of old, with United struggling to prise their way out. They finally do with Fernandes, who misjudges a through ball for Pogba which Fabinho covers. 

This really is finely poised, but Liverpool have been terrific since their equaliser and have finally cut off the supply to Rashford. 

75′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Salah tests Henderson again, who jitterly gathers at the second attempt. Liverpool’s front three have finally rediscovered some of their rhythm. 

77′ – Man United 2-2 Liverpool 

Fabinho – who has already been booked – is adjudged to have come through the back of Cavani on the edge of the box. Jermaine Jenas is talking about Cavani using his ‘experience’ – codeword for it being very soft. 

Fernandes is interested in the free-kick..

78′ – GOAL! Man United 3-2 Liverpool (Fernandes)

It’s a perfect free-kick by Fernandes, who pings the ball into the far corner beyond Alisson! 

The game swings United’s way yet again! 

80′ – Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

It’s been pretty rare to get an entertaining United/Liverpool game, though the few there have been usually finish 3-3. Liverpool have 10 minutes…

Firmino and Thiago are off for Liverpool; Origi and Shaqiri come on. 

83′ – Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

Early impact from Shaqiri – he almost picks out Mane in behind, but Wan-Bissaka does well to get a toe to the ball and divert the ball for a corner. 

86′ – Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

Fernandes does well to block an Alexander-Arnold cross. 

Rashford makes way for United, with Anthony Martial on in his place. He goes straight down the tunnel, but isn’t walking too gingerly.

88′ – Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

Cavani hits the post! Fred takes the ball to the corner, then swivels back to pass the ball to Fernandes, whose first-time cross lands perfectly on Cavani’s forehead, but the ball bounces back off the post. 

That would have sealed it…

Four added minutes. 

90+1 – Man United 3-2 Liverpool

Liverpool have all the ball, but aren’t doing a whole lot with it at the moment. 

90+2 – Man United 3-2 Liverpool

Paul Pogba – curiously named man of the match by Jermaine Jenas on the Beeb – scythes down Curtis Jones and is booked. 

Liverpool have a free-kick to the left of the penalty area. 

90+3 – Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

Robertson hoists the ball to the back post for Fabinho, the ball is half-cleared by Pogba to Salah, who meets the ball on the volley and sends it flying wide. 

FT: Man United 3-2 Liverpool 

A fabulous game that swung this way and that before ultimately settling with United. Liverpool’s goalscoring drought finally ended, but Rhys Williams was exposed as a major weakness at centre-back, but ultimately the game was settled by Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick. 

It’s a first win against Liverpool as a manager for Solskjaer, and his side progress. Klopp will be cheered by parts of his side’s display, but it remains utterly mad he hasn’t been allowed to buy an centre-back. 

United march on: thanks a lot for following us, and we will have a report and reaction from Old Trafford shortly. 

Bye!

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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