In a meeting between two Premier League giants, Liverpool condemned Manchester United to a 2-0 defeat in the Europa League last-16 tie at Anfield on Thursday night.
A penalty from Daniel Sturridge penalty and Roberto Firmino’s late strike, gave the Reds a two-goal advantage ahead of the second in a week’s time.
Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated proceedings from the early stages and pressed the visitors, and they were awarded a penalty in the 19th minute when Memphis Depay fouled Nathaniel Clyne in the box.
Sturridge made no mistake from the spot, as he put the home side ahead in the 20th minute to pile more pressure on Louis Van Gaal’s side.
United did not create a single chance and the tie could have been over, had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper David De Gea, who kept the Red Devils in the contest.
The Spaniard produced strings of excellent saves from Coutinho, Sturridge, Lallana and Clyne in a half dominated by Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side started the second half as they did in the first, Coutinho nearly doubled the lead in the 54th minute if not for the intervention of De Gea who tipped the ball over the bar.
United however couldn’t hold for much longer as a Henderson cross met Carrick who couldn’t clear perfectly in the six-yard box and instead gave it away to Lallana who pounced quickly and teed Firmino who hit it past De Gea from close range.
After the game, Klopp urged his team to produce similar display in the second leg tie against United next week.
“It was good, yeah? From the first second to the last second, with the exception of a few minutes in the second half. They didn’t create a lot of chances. Scoring the second goal was crucial. We are in a good position now and we want to go to the next round,” Klopp said.
“We need to play again like we did. We need to use the time we have before the second leg and we are looking forward to it. We would have liked to win by more but the result is ok. This is a night were I can give a lot of good grades to my players.
“We had some really big chances. 2-0 is the perfect result. There is a lot of things we can improve but there are a lot of things that were very good. I don’t want to set a limit for my players but I do not think we are through. We can run further, we can play better,” he said.
Liverpool’s next game is the second leg at Old Trafford on Thursday, 17 March, while Manchester United host West Ham in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund outclassed Tottenham, to take a commanding lead into the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.
The German giant defeated Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs 3-0 at Signal Iduna Park on Thursday night.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed in his 33rd goal in 38 appearances this season in the first half, before a clinical double from Marco Reus after the break put Thomas Tuchel’s men in a dominant position.
Speaking after the game, Pochettino, who made seven changes to his side, said: “It is difficult to explain but it’s a bad day and I’m disappointed with our performance. We did not play well. That is why we lost the game.
“We need to fight in the return leg next week. Three-nil is not a good result for us but we still need to keep working hard and try next Thursday.
“This was our first time losing 3-0 this season. We need to be calm and be sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Spurs will travel to bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa on Sunday in the Premier while Dortmund host Thomas Tuchel’s former team, Mainz.