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Mo Salah’s brace propelled Liverpool to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable win over Manchester United

Liverpool extended a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League after inflicting a second, excruciating humiliation of the season on Manchester United.

Ohamed Salah’s first two goals since 19 February – nine in his last six games against Liverpool’s historic rivals – were complemented by goals from Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane, but the 4-0 result hardly told the whole story.

That puts pressure on Manchester City, who host Brighton on Wednesday.

This was the first time Liverpool have won three straight league games since October 2009 against United, who were beaten 5-0 at Old Trafford earlier this season, but at least it was a competitive game worthy of England’s two most decorated clubs at the time.

Conclude

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire looks dejected after Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (not pictured) scored his side’s second goal during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Tuesday April 19, 2022. PA Photo. See PA Story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, schedule, club/league logos or “live” services. Online use in the game is limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or individual club/league/player publications.

United, who had a shot on target, have now conceded more Premier League goals than Burnley in 18th place this season and the defeat was another blow to top-four hopes.

Such were their injury woes – with Cristiano Ronaldo being furloughed following the tragic death of his newborn son – Phil Jones made only his third appearance this season.

When Paul Pogba compounded those problems by being substituted after 10 minutes, his side were already behind.

However, injuries seemed to be the least of their worries. A touch of the ball was the more pressing concern as Liverpool absolutely dominated from the start, as they had at Wembley when they took a 3-0 half-time lead in their FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.

United’s conceding just two goals before half-time was a moral victory for them but in no way suggested they had played better than Pep Guardiola’s side.

Their two groups of five were either too disjointed or too sluggish to have any effect on the proceedings and as a result their hosts – led by the majestic Thiago Alcantara – seized an initiative they never gave up.

The confidence with which Liverpool approached what was once the most important game of the season was shown by goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who defeated Bruno Fernandes in the fourth minute with a Cruyff twist from his own penalty spot.

Less than 60 seconds later, United were trailing when centre-forward Mane fell low and was given 10 yards space to play a through ball that could have been picked up by Trent Alexander-Arnold or Salah.

The latter took control and crossed Diaz to score the 400th goal under Jurgen Klopp from close range.

Mane had inherited his brilliant form from Wembley, but the truth was that neither he nor his team-mates demanded that level of performance against clearly inferior opponents.

The Senegalese international had a shot deflected wide before delivering an even more magnificent pass than that for his first goal to find Salah with a finish that doesn’t suggest a lack of confidence for a player who hadn’t scored since mid-February.

The build-up play was equally good, with central defender Joel Matip carrying the ball unchallenged out of defense to exchange passes with Diaz.

At this point United weren’t even chasing shadows, seemed resigned to their fate and could barely set foot on the ball – the only time they seemed to have possession of the ball was when Liverpool gave it to them.

David De Gea saved from Mane who was then flagged for offside before Alisson flicked a ball up from a United corner to Diaz who crossed for Salah who almost played into Mane to score a brilliant counter-attack goal.

Diaz had the ball in the net but was also flagged for offside before United’s saw a half-chance from a Victor Lindelof ball over the top as Marcus Rashford’s poor touch poked him straight to Alisson.

Jones’ header landed in the gaps in front of the back four just before the break; Jordan Henderson made his way to retrieve it while Fernandes, equally distant, glanced over at the assistant referee, hoping for another flag for offside.

It was symptomatic of United’s first-half performance and although they found a struggle after the break – having traded Jones for winger Jadon Sancho and switched to a back four – it was too little, far too late.

And after United conceded their brief encouragement, their chances were wiped out with another clinical move from Liverpool in the 68th minute.

Andy Robertson drove 25 yards unchallenged before unloading on Diaz, who stood straight for Mane to smash a left-footed shot past De Gea.

Salah completed the escape when his deflected shot went over the keeper five minutes from time, but the result had not been in doubt for some time.

https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/mo-salah-brace-helps-liverpool-go-top-of-premier-league-with-commanding-win-over-manchester-united-41566804.html Mo Salah’s brace propelled Liverpool to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable win over Manchester United

Fry Electronics Team

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