Man United respond with massive win, Ten Hag’s first, over rivals Liverpool

MANCHESTER, England — Finally, there are signs of life at Manchester United.

Amid protests over club ownership, United delivered a performance of intensity and spirit to beat fierce rivals Liverpool 2-1 on Monday and claim their first Premier League points of the season.

Complementary finishes of Jadon Sancho in the 16th minute and Marcus Rashford in the 53rd secured a win at Old Trafford that will bring respite to pressured manager Erik ten Hag, who made a huge statement in his team selection by leaving fall star striker Cristiano Ronaldo. and club captain Harry Maguire and was validated.

“I wanted a different attitude and that’s what I saw them bring to the pitch,” said Ten Hag, who started his United tenure amid something of a crisis at England’s biggest club. . “But this is only the beginning.”

Suddenly the heat is on Liverpool – widely expected to be title contenders again this season – with Jurgen Klopp’s side still in the hunt for a win after three games and now languishing behind United in the standings by just two points.

Mohamed Salah scored an 81st-minute consolation but it was another below-average display for Liverpool after draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace, although it was their first league defeat in 2022.

“During the warm-up it was the quietest I’ve heard in this stadium and they wanted something to lift them up,” said Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson. “And we gave it to them.”

What is historically the biggest match in English football was preceded by a pre-match protest by thousands of United fans angry at the management and state of the club under its 17-year-old owners, the family Glazer.

Fans called on the US-based Glazers to sell the club as they marched to Old Trafford then gathered in the lobby outside the historic stadium in front of a large police presence. Many lingered at the start of the game.

The pressure was on United after defeats to Brighton (2-1) and Brentford (4-0) to open the season, and the players fed on a frenetic atmosphere which seemed to affect Liverpool early on.

“The start of the game was exactly what everyone expected, what the United fans expected. They were after us,” Klopp said. “They started off a bit more aggressive than us.”

Lisandro Martinez, an offseason signing at centre-back who has come in for huge criticism in recent days, was particularly impressive and set the tone by hitting Salah in the first minute and then bursting into the Liverpool striker after getting up from the ground. Later in the first half, Raphael Varane, who replaced Maguire, practically tackled Luis Diaz to the ground, to roars of approval from United fans, although it earned him a booking.

Sancho’s goal came in United’s best period of the game, with the winger showing great composure to deceive James Milner by feigning a shot, cutting inside and placing a shot in the corner as Virgil van Dijk stood oddly still in front of him. It was the seventh Premier League game in a row that Liverpool had fallen behind.

The stadium erupted again when Anthony Martial, a half-time substitute, ran through Rashford and the striker sprinted towards the area before placing a calm finish inside the near post.

United had to defend vigorously at times, but hung on to end an eight-game losing streak against Liverpool and a four-game league losing streak dating back to the end of last season.

It’s up to United to string together a series of similar fighting performances, starting at Southampton next weekend. Ten Hag will have Casemiro, whose $60million signing from Real Madrid was completed on Monday, available for this game and the Brazilian midfielder was introduced to the pitch before kick-off.

With more signings potentially arriving before the end of the transfer window, things could look up for the 20-time English champions.

“We just have to produce like today in every game,” Sancho said.

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