Exactly what happened at Anfield on Sunday is not easy to explain, except for the obvious: Liverpool thrashed Manchester United and Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed scored two goals each, with Roberto Firmino coming off the bench to add insult to injury.
United were losing this match from the start, but for a while it seemed to be part of manager Erik ten Hag’s plan. With David De Gea in goal, Rafael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as central defenders, flanked by Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot on the right, protected by the ever vigilant serial winner Casemiro and Fred’s admirable work rate, they were hoping to absorb the pressure from behind and chase down the opposition with with the help of counterattacks, with the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony, complemented by the holding abilities of Wut Weghorst and the playful know-how of Bruno Fernandez, which are considered the ideal weapons for this approach. .
Meanwhile, Liverpool were looking to continue their positive streak in recent Premier League fixtures with Alisson Becker in goal, Ibrahima Konate establishing himself as Virgie van Dijk’s best partner in central defence, Andy Robertson on the left and Trent Alexander. Arnold on the right, Fabinho at the base of midfield with Jordan Henderson and Harvey Elliott, and Gakpo attacking in the center, surrounded by Nunez and Salah.
United’s plan seemed to work for over 40 minutes. Liverpool had a few chances, but not as obvious as those that Fernandes and Rashford didn’t convert at the other end. Casemiro even scored a header after Shaw’s free-kick from the left, but the linesman flagged correctly for offside.
But it only took one moment of bad awareness in the defense to make everything fall apart for the guests, and it happened in the 43rd minute, when Robertson had the ball and noticed that Gakpo had moved to the left, and Dalot, who was supposed to cover this space, was not on place. The Scotland international made a fantastic pass inside Fred as the Brazilian failed to cover Dalot and it was too easy for Gakpo to hook on him and sell the dummy to Varane before finishing masterfully past De Gea.
Many consider the last few minutes before half-time to be a really bad time to give in, but things soon got much worse for United. In the second period, it took Elliott about a minute to capitalize on another questionable defensive moment from Ten Hag’s team to make a sharp cross from six yards, but Nunez pulled the ball into the net.
United have been known to overcome a two-goal gap in recent matches, but it took only three minutes for another setback, which could always be too serious. Martinez has been praised to the skies this season for his defensive ability, highly questionable at the start due to his noticeable lack of height, but in the 50th minute Salah’s superb dribbling sent him to the ground before the Egyptian slid Gakpo. the chipped finish of the Dutchman was a worthy continuation. 3-0.
At this point, disappointment began to get the better of the visitors and within 11 minutes Anthony, Martinez and substitute Scott McTominay were booked, but things got much worse from there. In the 66th minute, it was time for Salah himself to score on the scoresheet, and he did so after another miss by United in front of his own goal. Salah stayed in ample space almost at the penalty mark and took advantage of a gracious rebound that landed the ball perfectly, albeit on his weaker right foot. It didn’t matter; he shot over the bar, giving De Gea no chance to save.
Another nine minutes later, Nunes landed another header as Varane completely underestimated a Henderson cross from the left, and in 83rd, Salah took advantage of another scrum in United’s penalty area to score a sixth from close range. But the crowd’s biggest reaction came in the seventh, when substitute Roberto Firmino skillfully spun around and fired to humiliate De Gea from an impossible angle.
He may have come off the bench for the last 11 minutes of normal time, but this game had a special meaning for Firmino and for those at Anfield who were particularly fond of the Brazilian.
“Our No. 9…” came across the ground, loudest of all, of course, on the Cope. It was the first match since the 31-year-old’s decision to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season was announced and was obviously a very emotional moment for the fans at home and also for the player who is currently scored 108 goals and provided 79 assists in 354 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool.
Firmino’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Despite constant rumors, his agent revealed that the player had instructed him not to speak to any club for the remainder of the season. The Brazil international with 55 caps is apparently determined not to risk his spotlight as he does his best for Liverpool as always.
It was Roberto Firmino’s eight happy years at Liverpool, a period marked by the 2019 Champions League, followed by the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, in which his final extra-time goal won for the Reds. ending a thirty-year wait for a Premier League title in 2020 and the League Cup – the FA Cup double won last year.
A completely unique player who is often praised by both his fiercest rivals and his teammates and manager, Firmino has made a big mark on the game around the world. Even former Manchester City defender Mick Richards, who writes his Daily Mail column, had to think about this great player.
“The biggest compliment I can give the Brazilian is that he has become so influential since he left Hoffenheim that he has developed a position known simply as the Firmino role – there used to be false nines, but he brought another dimension to it.
Liverpool have revamped their striker line in the last 12 months – Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo joined Diogo Jota and Mo Salah – so they have a lot of options now, but the reality is they can never buy another one. Firmino.
If Mane’s departure last summer marked the end of an era at Liverpool, then this departure will be no less important, symbolic and emotional for Kopitesh than that one.
Mohamed Salah breaks another record
When Liverpool announced the arrival of Salah in 2017, there were differing opinions on how much of an impact he could make as Liverpool were still looking for a way to get back to the top of the English game. Some said he didn’t have the qualities they needed – one journalist famously called him “another Juan Cuadrado”. Even when he broke the Premier League record for most goals scored in a season of 38 games in his first season at the club, he was still doubted and called a “one-season” miracle.
Almost six years have passed since then. Salah has scored more than 20 goals in each of his six seasons, and even his most staunch critics have understood that the Egyptian is a special player.
Apart from the fact that scoring two goals in a match against the main rival of your team is always a great feeling, this game was of particular importance for the 30-year-old winger. His second strike on Sunday was his 129th Premier League goal for Liverpool, meaning he has now surpassed Robbie Fowler as the Reds’ top scorer in the competition.
The era of Jurgen Klopp gave birth to many Liverpool legends. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are definitely in this group.
Where will United go next?
United suffered their worst defeat in the Premier League at the hands of their most hated rival, just when they truly believed it was time to finally scalp Anfield. Their last win there was scored by Louis van Gaal, their last goal was scored by Jesse Lingard in a 3–1 defeat in 2017.
This time everything pointed to a different outcome. Having won five of their last six matches in all competitions, with the exception of a 2-2 draw against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, it looked like they couldn’t go wrong. Ten Hag really put together a great team that put on a great game and great results – even Klopp called them a machine for just that purpose in his pre-match press conference.
Now Ten Hag must establish what exactly went wrong with his team, especially in the second half. Losing 1-0 at half-time is hardly a disaster, but going from there to 7-0 on the final whistle is certainly a disaster.
Navigating a busy schedule is never easy in top-level football, but now it’s probably a good thing for the 20-time English champions to play Betis in the Europa League round of 16 at Old Trafford on Thursday. They won’t have too much time to feel sorry for themselves as they need to get back to work so quickly. At the very least, it will give them a chance to boost the confidence that has been blown to shreds at Anfield.
Having won the Carabao Cup, they are still in contention for FA Cup and Europa League trophies, and finishing in the top four in the Premier League certainly won’t be considered a bad end-of-season result.