Draw enough as Reds finish off Man United

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Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho sets off on his way to scoring against Manchester United in the Europa League at Old Trafford. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho sets off on his way to scoring against Manchester United in the Europa League at Old Trafford. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Liverpool progressed to the last eight of the Europa League following an impressive 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

A wonder goal from Philippe Coutinho cancelled out Anthony Martial’s earlier penalty as Liverpool held on to secure a 3-1 aggregate win, following on from their 2-0 first leg victory at Anfield.

A Daniel Sturridge penalty and Roberto Firmino’s strike proved enough last Thursday, and the 3,000 travelling fans that made the short trip down the M62 were hoping it would be enough to see them through.

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With away goals coming into play, the Merseyside club knew just one at Old Trafford would seemingly finish off the tie and so it proved.

United had never previously been knocked out of Europe before by a fellow English team, but Liverpool changed all that tonight in what was the 158th competitive meeting between the two sides.

Despite being one of the most hotly contested games of the season, it failed to live up to the footballing hype in the early stages, with the first chance of the game not coming until the 18th minute for the home team. A cross from Marcus Rojo was met by Jesse Lingard in space, but the Warrington-born youngster’s free header was met with a strong right hand by Simon Mignolet to deny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYF5buv34GQ

Liverpool continued to press though, and in the 27th minute were somehow denied by David De Gea. The ball landing at the feet of Coutinho, who struck his shot sweetly towards the bottom right corner, but his effort was matched by a superb save from the Spaniard.

That save proving vital a few minutes later, as Manchester United were awarded a penalty when Nathaniel Clyne brought down Martial, who then stepped up coolly to convert the resulting spot-kick into the bottom left corner, with Mignolet guessing the wrong way.

In an end-to-end contest, Sturridge then rattled the crossbar from a free-kick 34 minutes in, but United exerted the majority of the pressure until,  Brazilian Coutinho made up for earlier spurned chances with a bit of magic to equalise with the last kick of the half.

Liverpool celebrate Philippe Coutinho's Europa League away goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Liverpool celebrate Philippe Coutinho’s Europa League away goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Starting his move on the left wing 30 yards from goal, the 23-year-old took on Varela with ease before a deft chip beat De Gea at his near post, stunning the Old Trafford crowd in the process.

The second period, as expected, saw Liverpool camped in their own-half, as the Red Devils tried frantically to get back into the contest knowing they needed four to qualify, their visitors restricted to breakaways that were few and far between.

The few opportunities that Liverpool did have were poorly finished, as Sturridge sliced a shot wide, and goal scorer Coutinho looked certain to score again following Emre Can’s back-heel, but his effort rolled weakly into De Gea’s gloves.

Luckily for the Anfield club though, United simply did not look menacing enough to get back into the game, as the game petered out to a 1-1 draw.

It gave the Scouse faithful bragging rights over their Mancunian rivals and another European away trip to look forward to, with the draw for the quarter-final set to take place tomorrow at noon.

About Matt Crosby, JMU Journalism