Cometh the man, cometh the hour; Adam Lallana ends his two-year Liverpool goal drought with a late equalizer against Manchester United.
The most heated rivalry in sports kicked off in Manchester with both sides desperate to claim bragging rights.
The two clubs stand as the preeminent teams of English football with 38 league titles between them. When these gargantuan clubs meet – sparks fly.
However, it would be VAR that would steal the spotlight — allowing a controversial United goal and disallowing Mane’s attempt in the second half.Embed from Getty Images
The tie began with the usual tension — Jürgen Klopp’s men looked edgy and uncertain.
Surprisingly, Manchester United were the side showing greater attacking intent.
The conviction and aggression often associated with the Kaiser’s reign at Anfield was absent.
Whenever Liverpool tried to regain possession in United’s defensive third, Atkinson would award soft free kicks. The inconsistent calls nullified any pressure from Liverpool’s “gegenpressing” style.
Divock Origi was brought down with minimal contact at about the half-hour mark. Somehow play was waved on in favour of United.
Daniel James made a run up the right flank and swung a dangerous ball in, which split Alisson and the centre backs.Embed from Getty Images
Marcus Rashford buried the opportunity and sent the home support into delirium. VAR was consulted but somehow the goal stood; a bitter pill to stomach for the traveling faithful.
Sadio Mané did manage to put the ball into David de Gea’s net in the 44th minute.
Martin Atkinson once again looked to VAR but the new technology once again demonstrated it was a flawed system.
Unfortunately, the ball had struck Mané’s arm in the build-up, albeit completely unintentional and the goal was disallowed.
Second-Half Persistence Pays Off
Manchester United’s tactics in the second period were predictable; sit deep and hope to stifle any promising attacks.
This enabled the European Champions to dominate possession. United’s defence simply shuffled along their penalty area and hoofed the ball long in the hope of conjuring something up on the counter.
The professionalism and desire of these men can never be questioned. Patient build-up opened space on the left for Robertson in the 85th minute.
The Scotsman delivered a dangerous ball in and Lallana was only too willing to slot the ball into the net.Embed from Getty Images
All Attention Now on Genk
The mark of a title winning side is being able to grind something out of nothing. This game was a perfect example of that. With the officiating seemingly against them, the Reds persevered.
United played like a mid-table team hoping to clip a soaring outfit’s wings. They will celebrate the fixture as a point gained, a weak mentality.
Liverpool return to Anfield with their unbeaten record intact and a major psychological boost. All attention turns towards Genk in the Champions League.