BPL G21:MANCHESTER UNITED 1 LIVERPOOL 1

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Manchester United are now unbeaten in 16 games following a hard-fought 1-1 draw against rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford as the bragging rights and points were shared.

James Milner gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first half after Paul Pogba had handled in the box, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in a late leveller to give United a share of the spoils.

Boss Jose Mourinho made four changes to the side that beat Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday with Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick, Anthony Martial and Ibrahimovic all coming back into the starting XI in place of Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford.

As with any United and Liverpool encounter, the atmosphere inside Old Trafford was electric before kick-off and both sets of fans stood together for a period of applause in remembrance of the late Graham Taylor.

This was the 50th Premier League meeting between the two sides and such was the intensity of a game of this magnitude, it was typically a frenetic start with both teams struggling to retain possession of the ball.

United did threaten first on 18 minutes, though, as a sloppy back-pass from Dejan Lovren allowed Ibrahimovic to block Simon Mignolet’s clearance but, luckily for Liverpool, the ball ended up on the roof of the net, rather than the back of it.

A minute later and the Reds should really have been in front. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Pogba for the first clear chance of the game, but the Frenchman scuffed his effort wide with just Mignolet to beat.

At the other end, Divock Origi scuffed his volleyed effort when free in the box before Phil Jones dallied on the ball and was rescued by his partner Rojo.

Then, on 27 minutes, Pogba handled a Liverpool corner while challenging Lovren in the air and Milner stepped up to fire the visitors into the lead from the penalty spot.

Six minutes later and Ibrahimovic so nearly levelled it up but his vicious free-kick from a yard outside the Liverpool penalty area was beaten away down low by Mignolet.

Five minutes before the break, Mkhitaryan latched onto a cute through-ball from Ander Herrera, but again Mignolet came to the visitors’ rescue when one-on-one, meaning United trailed at the break, despite creating the better opportunities.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 52% Liverpool 48%
Shots at goal: United 4 Liverpool 5
Shots on target: United 2 Liverpool 1
Corners: United 3 Liverpool 5

Mourinho introduced Wayne Rooney at half-time with the Old Trafford faithful hoping he could revive United and break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record in the process.

But it was Liverpool who came close to doubling their lead as a quick counter attack allowed Origi to fire a wicked shot inches wide of David De Gea’s far post, via a deflection.

It was then United’s turn to counter-attack at pace and, similarly to the first half, the Reds could have levelled the game – a game which was beginning to look like a typical United v Liverpool encounter as the minutes ticked on.

Martial won the ball high up the field and he found Ibrahimovic who slipped in the Armenian, but his attempted cross-hit shot evaded everyone.

At the other end, Roberto Firmino could have put the game to bed after he was played in by substitute Philippe Coutinho, but De Gea saved down low.

United continued to push forward, which meant Liverpool were dangerous on the counter-attack and Georginio Wijnaldum arrived late to head over at the back post following a Firmino cross.

But the Reds’ pressure finally told six minutes from time as first substitute Marroune Fellaini’s header rebounded off the post, before Ibrahimovic headed in Antonio Valencia’s cross via the crossbar to ensure United’s second-half dominance was rewarded.

Both sides pushed to grab all three points late on, but the spoils were shared, meaning United’s long unbeaten run now stretches to 16 matches in all competitions.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 55% Liverpool 45%
Shots at goal: United 9 Liverpool 13
Shots on target: United 3 Liverpool 4
Corners: United 5 Liverpool 7

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian (Fellaini 75); Carrick (Rooney 45), Herrera, Pogba; Martial (Mata 65), Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Rashford.

Booked: Herrera.

Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Klaven, Milner; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Firminho, Origi (Coutinho 60).

Subs not used: Karius, Gomez, Moreno, Stewart, Ejaria, Sturridge.

Booked: Lovren, Firmino.

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