The atmosphere was heavy at Old Trafford before the rescheduled clash between Manchester United and Liverpool. Around 500 diehards lit flares and sang their songs on the forecourt while a 10-foot barrier offered protection to the Munich tunnel, which had been breached by the protesters before the original fixture on the Sunday before last, causing the game’s postponement.

The protest of the fans of Manchester United, who demanded the ousting of the Glazer family out of their beloved club, raised the doubts that the team bus of Liverpool might not make it through to the stadium. But ultimately they did and the match went ahead.

For the Reds, it was a very important affair because their qualification for the Champions League next season was at stake and except bagging full points no other outcomes could not be acceptable. Thankfully, it seemed that the Reds have started to get rid of the hibernation in the winter and spring into life gradually.

But it was the hosts who took the lead.

Alisson got away with a stray pass out to Edinson Cavani early on and Manchester United went in front when Bruno Fernandes took a cut-back from Aaron Wan‑Bissaka and unfurled a trivela – it was a perfect start to dash the confidence of a side that was struggling big time.

Liverpool did not bog down, rather shook their heads and ran in with their heads high for a comeback.

hey were dead and buried a couple of weeks ago, when tossing away points at Leeds and at home to Newcastle, but back-to-back wins and the struggles of both Leicester and Chelsea have let them back in.

Diogo Jota equalized with a lovely flick after Phillips had worked the ball into the six-yard box and Roberto Firmino gave them the lead before half-time when he ran off the slumbering Paul Pogba to head in Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick.

The Reds shouted for a penalty in the third minute when Firmino, played in by Alexander-Arnold, watched a shot go through Eric Bailly’s block and hit the defender’s hand – an award would have been harsh.

Then they got one on 26 minutes only for VAR to confirm that Bailly had swiped the ball before cleaning out Phillips.

Jota had twice worked Dean Henderson before the interval and United’s defensive looseness was stamped all over Firmino’s second goal at the start of the second half.

Fred gave away possession on the edge of the area after Luke Shaw was robbed by Jota, Alexander-Arnold’s drive drew a weak parry from Henderson. Firmino gobbled up the rebound.

But the Reds gave their fans palpitations, missing chances to move further ahead through Jota and Alexander-Arnold, and then wobbling when Marcus Rashford ran through to make it 3-2.

Had Phillips, Fabinho, and young Rhys Williams not been alert in their own six-yard box, Manchester United would have been level.

Mohamed Salah would have the last word though.

The Egyptian’s 200th Liverpool appearance marked in style, with goal number 124.

Liverpool are still in the contest for the top four spots.

Three more wins should do it – West Brom on Sunday, Burnley on Wednesday, Crystal Palace after that. Nine points from nine should do the business, with Chelsea and Leicester due to meet at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday.

The Reds just need a flawless finish.

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