Manchester United picked up their first points of the Premier League season as they beat Liverpool 2-1 on Monday night.
It was a game few fancied Erik ten Hag’s side to win, but they were so much more disciplined than in the previous matches this campaign, and put in a very impressive display.
It was Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford who scored for the Red Devils, while Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool some hope late on when he headed in from a corner.
United started the game on top and had a number of half chances before Anthony Elanga struck the post after 10 minutes with a side-footed effort.
On 16 minutes, the hosts took the lead, with Sancho placing the ball into the back of the net after he sidestepped James Milner’s erratic slide tackle inside the box, while Alisson also over-committed and almost left United’s No.25 with an empty half of the net to aim into.
But the Liverpool keeper did get fingertips to Christian Eriksen’s free-kick soon after, and poked it over the bar, as United continued on top.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had only managed minor chances via Luis Diaz and Jordan Henderson, but ended the half as the better side.
Liverpool’s best chance of the first period actually came when Bruno Fernandes nearly turned the ball into his own goal, only for the well-placed Lisandro Martinez to block it on the line with the ball smashing him in the face. Harvey Eliott curled wide seconds after, as it was cleared to the edge of the box.
After the break Rashford doubled United’s lead when he was slipped the ball in behind by half-time substitute Anthony Martial. The Red Devils’ No.10 calmly slotted the ball past Alisson from the breakaway, with the goal ruled onside following a VAR check.
Rashford could have had another moments later, but Alisson got a finger to the ball, while there was goalkeeping heroics at the other end as David de Gea prevented Diaz netting from point-blank range after the Spaniard stuck out an instinctive foot.
United continued to create chances such as a Bruno Fernandes flick which was held, while Rashford was inches away with a shot after cutting in off the left.
But, like the first period, Liverpool got better as the second 45 continued. De Gea was on hand to keep out a Fabinho header, and reacted well to stop Martinez accidentally slicing the ball into the back of his own net.
The keeper also kept out Fabio Carvalho’s strike inside the box on 81 minutes, but could do nothing as Salah followed up and headed in from a rebound.
United managed to hold out in the latter stages as Erik ten Hag grabbed a massive three points, which sees the Red Devils move ahead of Liverpool in the table.
Manchester United player ratings
David de Gea- 7
Made a brilliant save to keep out Diaz at an important time in the game, and dealt well with Liverpool’s chances, as well as Martinez’s slice. De Gea’s distribution could have been better, but overall it was a good display.
Diogo Dalot- 8 (off 85)
Excellent from the Portugal defender, who put in perhaps his best-ever display in a United jersey. Diaz found little joy up against Dalot, who was well positioned and made several well-timed tackles.
Raphael Varane- 8
A superb showing from the centre-back, who was like a human shield for United in defence. Varane made a number of key tackles in the box and cleared some dangerous crosses. We selected the Frenchman as our man of the match.
Lisandro Martinez- 8
So much better than the showing against Brentford nine days ago, the summer signing went flying into challenges, and rarely missed any. His aggression proved difficult for Liverpool to deal with.
Tyrell Malacia- 7
Marking Salah on his first United start was a tall order, but one the left-back dealt with superbly. Malacia won his individual battle and didn’t look over-awed by the occasion at Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay- 7
Anchored the midfield and contributed immensely to United’s organisation in the middle. The Scotland international put in several big challenges and used the ball well.
Christian Eriksen- 7 (off 85)
Played more withdrawn, and delivered some brilliant through balls into United’s attackers. The Dane barely misplaced a pass and his role was pivotal in the three points.
Bruno Fernandes- 7
Showed more discipline than he has of late, and was United’s best presser on Monday. While not creating many chances, Fernandes’ positional play was key to United’s success.
Jadon Sancho- 6 (off 71)
Played well without being as threatening as United’s other attackers. Sancho took his goal well at a crucial time in the game.
Marcus Rashford- 7 (off 85)
The forward put in his best United performance in a long time, and was a constant threat with his runs in behind. Rashford’s finish for his goal was ice cool, while he nearly added another with a dangerous shot cutting in off the left.
Anthony Elanga- 7 (off 46)
Replaced at half-time, but impressed in the opening 45 minutes and gave Trent Alexander-Arnold real issues down Liverpool’s right flank. A run from the United winger saw Alexander-Arnold pick up a booking, while he played a huge part in the build-up to Sancho’s opener.
Anthony Martial- 7 (on 46)
Linked well with United’s other attackers and was a threat with his dribbles in behind the defence.
Fred- 6 (on 71)
Helped make United compact and slotted in alongside McTominay
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (on 85), Donny van de Beek (on 85), Cristiano Ronaldo (on 85)