Xherdan Shaqiri scored twice after coming on as a second-half substitute to send Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.
Capitalising on their early dominance, Sadio Mane put the Reds into a 24th-minute lead when he volleyed in Fabinho’s pin-point ball into the path of his run across the box.
United drew level shortly after, with Jesse Lingard netting after Alisson Becker hadn’t been able to keep hold of Romelu Lukaku’s driven cross into the goal-mouth.
However, Shaqiri came off the bench with 21 minutes to go to make a near-instant impact and restore the lead for Liverpool when he crashed home off the underside of the bar.
The forward added his second soon after when his shot diverted off Eric Bailly and into the corner of the net to secure victory for the Reds and elevate them back to the division’s summit.
The team news…
Nathaniel Clyne was handed his first Premier League appearance of the season with Trent Alexander-Arnold ruled out due to injury, while James Milner was also missing as a precaution because of a muscle issue. Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Naby Keita completed the four changes made to Jürgen Klopp’s starting line-up.
The first half…
Liverpool went into the game aiming for a first Premier League victory over United since 2014 – and with it, the opportunity to move back to the top of the table ahead of Manchester City.
With the mid-winter afternoon darkness contributing to the atmosphere inside Anfield, the Reds fashioned an early opportunity when Mohamed Salah slid Roberto Firmino into space on the corner of the box, but his drive was deflected behind by Ashley Young.
At the other end, the visitors had celebrations cut short when a raised flag chalked off Young’s free-kick, which the offside Lukaku had attempted to prod into the net, deceiving Alisson.
Firmino and Fabinho then brought saves out of David de Gea before Lovren’s header from a corner was stopped on the line by Young inside a frantic opening 10 minutes.
Liverpool had exerted all the pressure in the opening exchanges – and it finally told with 24 minutes elapsed.
Fabinho collected possession centrally around 25 yards from goal and spotted Mane’s dart inside from the right. The ball from the Brazilian was perfect for his teammate, and the No.10 found the net by controlling on his chest and sweeping beyond De Gea in one fluid motion.
They almost doubled their advantage just moments later, but Lovren could only hoist over the crossbar under pressure from Bailly after Firmino had worked a corner back into the danger zone.
However, Jose Mourinho’s men drew level when Alisson couldn’t hold onto Lukaku’s driven centre into the six-yard box, enabling Lingard to nudge in a leveller against the run of play and leave the scoreline tied at the interval.
The second half…
Liverpool set about looking to restore their lead from the off in the early stages after the re-start – and only a fine one-handed save from De Gea prevented Firmino from finding the bottom corner. Young then blocked Keita’s follow-up.
Next, Lovren had a back-post header from a well-worked corner routine deflected behind while Virgil van Dijk’s swing towards goal struck the lunge of Nemanja Matic as the Reds cranked up the pressure on the visiting defence.
At the other end, Andy Robertson had to be alert to deny substitute Marouane Fellaini the chance to glance in just after the hour mark.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Shaqiri came from the bench to replace Keita – and he wasted little time in making his mark.
Mane darted into the area from the left and fizzed a ball into the centre, which was deflected into the vicinity of the Swiss. He steadied himself before firing into net via a touch off Young and the underside of the bar.
And he wasn’t finished there as he rasped home a second from just inside the area – via a glance off Bailly – to send Anfield into raptures and Liverpool one point clear at the top of the Premier League table.