United outclassed at Anfield

January 20, 2020
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (centre) celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal while Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea (left) and midfielder Daniel James look on dejectedly during their English Premier League match at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England yesterday.

LIVERPOOL, England (AP):

Mohamed Salah ripped off his Liverpool jersey at a freezing Anfield after completing a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in stoppage time yesterday and rousing fans on the Kop to sing: “We’re gonna win the league.”

It’s been a 30-year wait but there is no longer any trepidation from the Liverpool supporters as their team has moved 16 points in front at the English Premier League (EPL) summit.

“Now you’re gonna believe us,” they chanted.

It took Salah getting on the end of goalkeeper Alisson’s inspired long ball with the final whistle about to blow for the Liverpool title party to begin with four months of the season remaining.

Although Liverpool only held a slender lead heading into stoppage time – after Virgil van Dijk’s 14th minute header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner – the ineffective United attack meant this victory never appeared in doubt.

Even with Liverpool unbeaten through 22 rounds and with a game in hand, the players aren’t as bullish as their fans in declaring the title a done deal.

“I think everyone wants us to say something about it but we won’t,” Van Dijk said. “In the squad we cannot, and we won’t. It is one game at a time.”

Liverpool could even afford to have two goals ruled out, including Roberto Firmino’s curling strike due to Van Dijk’s foul on United goalkeeper David de Gea in the build-up. Salah also scuffed a shot and captain Jordan Henderson hit the post.

“You have to find a way and we did,” Van Dijk said. “We had to put everything on the line and we kept a clean sheet again so I’m happy with that.”

Liverpool are closing in on a 19th English title, one behind the record haul United built with 13 EPL successes under Alex Ferguson.

But it is United’s neighbours Manchester City that are the nearest but still distant challengers to Liverpool, 16 points behind in second place in their ailing title defence.

United are 30 points behind Liverpool in fifth place.

“They had moments when they played football,” Klopp said of United. “But it’s not too often.”

Closing the five-point gap on the fourth UEFA Champions League place is the mission for United.

“There were times we took the game to them and created chances, big chances,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said. “We then send everyone up to get the equaliser and they get the goal.

“They stamped their authority on the game, they lead the league deservedly and they are the most direct team in the league. They put you under pressure and you have to concentrate at the back.”

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