MAN UNITED 0, LIVERPOOL 5
‘Possibly a direction changing result’ was one phrase used to describe Manchester United’s humiliating home defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.
The pressure has intensified on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer more than at any time in his near three-year reign at Old Trafford.
It was the anniversary – 10 years and one day – of another horror United showing in the 6-1 home derby defeat to neighbours City.
And this was equally bad as this was their heaviest home defeat to Liverpool and the first five goal plus to nil home loss since February 1955 when they were beaten 5-0 by City.
United had a shocker defensively as Mohamed Sala scored his fourth Liverpool hat-trick and there were also goals for Naby Keita and Diogo Jota.
For Salah it was another record-breaking day as he surpassed Didier Drogba’s 104 goals as Africa’s leading scorer in the Premier League.
This was his fourth hat-trick for Liverpool and the 10th successive game he has found the net, something only four players have done since 2017-18 in the big five European leagues.
It will be interesting to see how the United board of directors react to this result as hundreds were pictured leaving the ground at half time with the team losing 4-0.
And in the second half, the Liverpool fans spent much of the time mocking United. However, the fans who remained stayed behind the team which was cheered from the field.Embed from Getty Images
Solskjaer is determined to continue while admitting it was a low point and his side has hit “rock bottom”.
He said: “It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players. We were not good enough individually and as a team, can’t give a team like Liverpool those chances, but unfortunately we did.
“The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game.”
Asked about whose responsibility, Solskjaer added: “It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant. I choose the way we approach the game. We were not clinical enough and gave too much space and when you give good players space they score.
“We are at home, playing against Liverpool, we have gone here over the last two and half years and had a similar approach to high press but today they scored on their chances I think as Manchester United we should always try to stamp our authority on the game.
“That fourth goal is when you go into half time with having to score one every 15 minutes. I know these boys are capable of it. The fourth, that was probably game over.
“You can look at last season we lose to Spurs 6-1 this is worse, miles worse. This is miles worse for me as a Manchester lad. I’ve just got to say we have to get over this as quickly as we can.
“I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.
“It is going to be a difficult one. The players will be low but there’s loads of characters there.
“We know we are rock bottom, we can’t feel any worse than this. Let’s see where we take it.”
Captain Harry Maguire apologised to the fans admitting they were not good enough.
He said: “We apologise to the fans. It was nowhere near good enough for this club. They stuck with us right to the end and we appreciate that but as a club we have to do better.
“I am so disappointed. We gave them so many chances. They were so clinical, we had a lot of chances ourselves, but I am a defender and to concede four in the first half especially at Old Trafford is nowhere near good enough.
“As a player I know myself. I’ll be looking at myself and my individual performance.
“We have to stick together, there is no point blaming each other but look at ourselves. Look in the mirror when we go home tonight and think where we can do better.
“To lose to Liverpool in any game of football hurts. The rivals, the way we lost the game, to be 4-0 down at half time in front of our fans, like I say it is not good enough.
“I look at those lads each day in training and we are working hard as we can but at the moment it is not good enough. I apologise to the fans, we have to look at ourselves as individuals but also stick together.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, celebrating his 200th win, said: “We were exceptional, clinical, our high press was exceptional, formation, all things you want as a coach.
“We took our chance which is why we were 4-0 up at half-time. Then it was 5-0 and the red card and we tried to control kit and get home healthy.”
Klopp added it was a really good day, adding: “I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it was a big one.
“I was told before it had never happened before in the history of the club so it is another chapter.”
United made three changes to the side that lost to Leicester in their previous Premier League fixture.
Marcus Rashford started in attack as Fred and Scott McTominay came into midfield. All three started in the thrilling comeback win against Atalanta in midweek.
Talisman Bruno Fernandes had been an injury doubt but started.
There were also three changes for Liverpoolfrom their last Premier Lague game as Alisson returned in goal while Jota began in attack with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench. Ibrahima Konate also started, but Fabinho was not in the squad.
Fernandes had a great chance to give United a fourth minute lead after sweeping move from left to right but blazed over when he ought to have hit the target.
It proved a costly miss as Liverpool went to the other end and made the breakthrough from an unlikely source Keita.
Mohamed Salah provided the assist with a pass which dissected the United defence as Keita ran through to slot low past David De Gea for his third goal of the season.
United’s defence remained a worry as Keita released Roberto Firmino whose shot was parried by De Gea before Salah cut inside and fired wide.
Marcus Rashford had a great run and fired narrowly wide, a temporary respite from Liverpool’s relentless attacking tide.
United’s defence buckled again in the 13th minute when Liverpool doubled their lead when Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw go in each other’s way.
Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in a low cross which Jota, sliding in, converted from six yards with a VAR check confirming he was onside.
Liverpool suffered a setback after 26 minutes when James Milner limped off after falling awkwardly to be replaced by Curtis Jones.
Almost half an hour had gone before Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was called into action to turn away a shot from Mason Greenwood.
The game was effectively over by the 38th minute when Liverpool added a third goal.
Salah’s initial shot was blocked by Maguire and ricocheted to Keita on the right. He fired over a low cross and Salah fired into the roof of the net from six yards as he became the first Liverpool player ever to score in three successive games at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo had a chance to pull a goal back in stoppage time but Alisson spread himself well to block.
The frustration was getting too much for Ronaldo who was booked for a foul on Jones.
Then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Liverpool added a fourth goal as Firmino and Jota set up Salah who swept home from six yards.
And United left the field to a chorus of boos and photos emerged of hundreds of United fans leaving Old Trafford.
Pogba replaced Greenwood at the break as United looked to strengthen their midfield.
It failed to improve United’s fortunes as they conceded a fifth goal in the 50th minute when Henderson’s brilliant through ball released Salah who nicked it past De Gea to complete a fourth Liverpool hat-trick and the first visiting player to do it for 18 years since Brazilian Ronaldo did it for Real Madrid.
United thought they had scored when Ronaldo cut inside Alexander-Arnold and Konate and bent home a delightful effort only to have in chalked out for offside after a VAR review.
Pogba lasted only 15 minutes when he was sent off for a lunge at Keita.
Referee Anthony Taylor initially produced a yellow card but after being asked to consult the pitchside monitor it was overturned to a red card.
Keita was taken from the field on a stretcher to be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while United brought on Diogo Dalot and Edinson Cavani for Fernandes and Rashford.
It would have been six but for a fine save from De Gea to turn over a drive from Alexander-Arnold as it was damage limitation to prevent even more humiliation.
The Liverpool fans were mocking chanting ‘Ole at the wheel’, ‘Ole must stay’ and ‘Ole, Ole, give us a wave’.
United came close to an 83rd minute consolation when McTominay headed a free kick back across the face of goal and Cavani struck the bar from four yards.