Liverpool hammer Man Utd to open up two-point lead at top of Premier League

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

Mohamed Salah’s first two goals since February 19 (nine in his last six games against Liverpool’s historic rivals) were complemented by strikes from Luis Díaz and Sadio Mané, but the 4-0 scoreline hardly tells the whole story. .

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

This was the first time since October 2009 that Liverpool had won three successive league games against United, beaten 5-0 at Old Trafford earlier this season, but at least in those days it was a competitive fixture worthy of both. most successful clubs in England.

United, who fired a shot on goal, have now conceded more Premier League goals this season than 18th-placed Burnley, and the defeat was a further blow to their top-four hopes.

Such were his injury woes: with Cristiano Ronaldo given compassionate leave after the tragic death of his newborn son, Phil Jones made only his third appearance of the season.

When Paul Pogba added to those problems by coming off after 10 minutes, his team was already behind.

However, injuries seemed the least of his worries. Touching the ball was the most pressing concern as Liverpool dominated utterly from the start, as they had at Wembley, when they took a 3-0 half-time lead against Manchester City in their Cup semi-final win. FA.

That United only conceded two at half-time was something of a moral victory for them, but it by no means suggested that they had performed better than Pep Guardiola’s side.

Their two benches of five were either too disjointed or too inert to have any effect on the proceedings and as a result their hosts, led by the majestic Thiago Alcantara, took an initiative they never relinquished.

The confidence with which Liverpool approached what used to be their key game of the season was exemplified by goalkeeper Alisson Becker beating Bruno Fernandes through Cruyff’s spin on his own penalty spot in the fourth minute.

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

The latter took control, focusing for Diaz to score goal 400 under Jurgen Klopp from close range.

Sadio Mané impressed by Liverpool

Sadio Mane impressed by Liverpool (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mane had retained his brilliant form from Wembley, but in truth neither he nor his teammates required that level of performance against clearly outmatched opponents.

The Senegal international had a shot deflected wide before providing an even more sumptuous pass than his first goal to propel Salah into scoring with a shot that did not suggest a lack of confidence for a player who had not scored since mid-February. .

The warm-up game was just as good, with center back Joel Matip smoothly getting the ball out of defense to exchange passes with Diaz.

At this point, United weren’t even chasing shadows, seemingly resigned to their fate, and could barely get a foot on the ball; the only time he seemed to have possession was when Liverpool gave it to him.

David De Gea saved Mane, who was later flagged for offside, before Alisson from a United corner lobbed a ball out of bounds to Diaz, who crossed for Salah, who almost played into Mane for what would have been a brilliant counterattack goal.

Diaz had the ball in the net but was also flagged for offside before United’s half-chance from Victor Lindelof’s overhand ball saw Marcus Rashford’s mistouch push him right into Alisson.

Moments before the break, Jones’ downward header fell into space in front of the back four; Jordan Henderson came out to retrieve it while Fernandes, equidistant, watched the assistant referee waiting for another offside flag.

It was symptomatic of United’s first-half performance and although they did find some fighting after the interval, having swapped Jones for winger Jadon Sancho and switched to a back four, it was too little, too late.

And having allowed United their brief moment of breath, their chances were extinguished by another clinical move from Liverpool in the 68th minute.

Andy Robertson drove unopposed forward for 25 yards before unloading on Diaz, who faced Mane for a left-footed shot past De Gea.

Salah completed the rout when his deflected shot sailed over the goalkeeper five minutes from time, but the result had not been in doubt for some time.