Manchester United progressed to the 5th round of the FA Cup after an entertaining and thrilling win over arch-rivals Liverpool on Sunday. United continued their fine form going into this fixture having not lost in the league since November. United played Liverpool a week ago in the league but the result was a dull 0-0 draw. However, today goals from Greenwood, Rashford, and Bruno Fernandes overcame Liverpool by 3-2.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer made five changes to the squad for this fixture. Dean Henderson resumed his role as the cup keeper, as Maguire and Lindelof were the center back pairing. Wan-Bissaka and Shaw were the wing-backs behind Pogba and McTominay. Donny van de Beek made a rare start in the #10 role alongside Rashford, Greenwood, and Cavani in the attack. Martial, Telles, Bruno, Matic, Fred were among the substitutes.
Manchester United started off brightly, keeping Liverpool’s forwards out while simultaneously laying the ball off to Greenwood and Rashford in the attack. Van De Beek played a more deep-lying playmaker role allowing Pogba to switch between attack and defense. In the 10th minute, Mason Greenwood made a trademark run into the Liverpool box, forcing a save from Allison. On the defense, United’s holding midfielders were successful in cutting out Liverpool but were struggling to hang onto the ball. Liverpool drew first blood when Firminho played a pass to Salah chipped the ball over Henderson. Advantage Liverpool.
Although United were down, the team still showed plenty of fight and belief in their search for an equalizer. They didn’t have to wait long as Mason Greenwood level things in the 26th minute. Pogba displayed excellent strength to win the ball on the edge of his own box before playing it out to van de Beek. The Dutchman switched it out to Rashford who played an excellent looping pass to Greenwood, and the young winger fired it past Allison making it 1-1. Manchester United came close to a second goal but Pogba’s first-time effort was just off target. United were struggling to hold onto the ball as Liverpool in the center of the park and this gifted Liverpool with some opportunities, but the defense held firm. At halftime, both the teams were evenly poised and the second half was set to be an enthralling one.
United sucker-punched Liverpool in the opening minutes of the second half with a brilliant goal from Marcus Rashford. Greenwood played an excellent high pass into the path of Rashford who sprinted into the box and calmly finished in the far corner to put United ahead. However, this time Liverpool showed great fight to search for an equalizer as they began dominating possession and threatening United. Unfortunately, Liverpool soon equalized through Salah after a bad giveaway from Cavani. In the final 30 minutes, the match became a street-fight where both teams went blow for blow with each other. In the 66th minute, Fred and Bruno came on for van de Beek and Greenwood. Fred took his place in the defensive midfield position, as Bruno assumed the role of a high pressing CAM right behind the strikers.
Liverpool came close again through Mo Salah but Henderson’s good positioning and firm hands denied the Egyptian forward. Wan-Bissaka successfully put in some excellent challenges to negate Mane and Robertson on the left. The right wingback came under some criticism during midweek but really impressed with his defensive abilities today. Liverpool were pressing high up, making life difficult for the United center halves. However, United’s Bruno Fernandes stole the show.
After a foul on the edge of the box, Bruno, Fred, and Rashford stood over the freekick. The Portuguese man fired the ball into the far corner to make it 3-2 in the 78th minute. Surely, United were going to hold on and see the game through, which they promptly did. Cavani came agonizingly close in the dying minutes but his header struck the bar instead of finding the back of the net. In the 88th, Martial replaced a seemingly injured Rashford but United held firm and registered a win over their rivals.
Manchester United have now progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will play against West Ham United. The attacking three did a great job today displaying great passing, movement, and finishing as well as some incredible work rate. Donny van de Beek also performed admirably, really making a case for more game time. The center halves were good aerially but struggled to mark forward runs as they were often caught ball-watching. McTominay did well defensively but was sloppy with his passing and his field presence, which did put United in uncomfortable situations at times. However, Bruno’s cameo at the end did the job for United, and watching Ole punch the air in delight would make any United fan beam for this whole week. Up next in the league, Manchester United face off against strugglers Sheffield United on Wednesday before playing Arsenal next weekend.