BPL G8 : LIVERPOOL 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 0

A dogged and determined defensive performance from Manchester United helped the Reds earn a point against rivals Liverpool after a stalemate inside a typically raucous Anfield.

A first-half wonder save from David De Gea, aided by a completely professional defensive performance was enough for a point to extend the unbeaten run all season in the Premier League. Romelu Lukaku, despite being isolated in attack, could have even grabbed all three points if he had converted a first-half effort which was saved by Simon Mignolet.

Boss Jose Mourinho opted to start with a stubborn-looking formation away from home against one of the Reds’ title rivals with Chris Smalling joining the returning Phil Jones and Matteo Darmian replacing the injured Eric Bailly in a central three at the back. Ander Herrera came in for the injured Marouane Fellaini in midfield, while Anthony Martial, who scored on his debut against Liverpool, played on the left flank.

In the build-up, Mourinho stated the Reds’ clash with Liverpool was ‘just a match’, but try telling the fans that! Prior to kick-off, Anfield’s Centenary Stand was renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand in honour of the Scottish club legend, and a special mosaic was revealed so it only added to what was a stirring Anfield atmosphere. United, however, set up to silence the crowd early on with deep-lying defensive play which saw the team use similar tactics to grab a dogged 0-0 draw here last season.

Georginio Wijnaldum tried his luck from 25 yards but De Gea saved comfortably, before Mo Salah failed to flick home Roberto Firmino’s near-post cross. Nemanja Matic, who was patrolling the United midfield, unleashed a fierce half-volley from 30 yards which fizzed past Mignolet’s right-hand post as both sides reduced each other to long-range efforts.

Liverpool should have taken the lead on 35 minutes, though, as Firmino’s cross found Joel Matip, but his shot was wonderfully saved by De Gea’s feet and, after Jones partially cleared, Salah’s effort from 15 yards narrowly evaded the far post.

At the other end, Lukaku had a glorious chance to draw first blood in front of The Kop. Cute one-touch football around the box between Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan allowed the big Belgian to strike at goal, but his compatriot, Mignolet, palmed the ball away, ensuring the sides went in level at the break.

Liverpool nearly caught United napping after the break as Philippe Coutinho crossed for Firmino, but Jones slid to block, before De Gea grasped the rebound. Firmino was then flagged offside when clean through after a delicate pass from Coutinho before Emre Can should have broken the deadlock, but he volleyed Joe Gomez’s right-wing cross over from 10 yards with just De Gea to beat.

Jurgen Klopp’s men continued to probe in possession, but United were holding firm at the back with the home crowd becoming increasingly frustrated. Mourinho recognised that and the speedy duo of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard came on to try and secure a ‘smash and grab’-style win.

Chances were few and far between as the game wore on and that would have satisfied Mourinho and United. A point gained at Anfield.

THE LINE-UPS:

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson (c), Can, Wijnaldum, Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 78), Firmino (Solanke 87), Coutinho (Sturridge 78). Subs not used: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Klaven, Milner.

United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Herrera, Matic, Young (Lindelof 90+3), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 63), Martial (Rashford 65); Lukaku. Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Darmian, Carrick.

Booked: Smalling, Young.

MATCH STATS

Possession: Liverpool 62% United 38%
Shots: Liverpool 19 United 6
Shots on Target: Liverpool 5 United 1
Corners: Liverpool 7 United 3

TALKING POINTS:

REDS BREAK CLEAN-SHEET RECORD

Jose Mourinho’s men beat their best-ever clean sheet record when it comes to the start of a Premier League campaign with today’s shut-out of rivals Liverpool. With 18 clean sheets now in 2017 – the most in the Premier League, another thoroughly professional defensive performance restricted Liverpool’s attacking firepower.

A POINT GAINED

Jose Mourinho will look at this game as a point gained rather than two points lost. As we all know, Anfield is never an easy place, especially after an international break. With Bailly missing along with a number of other notable absentees, United can be pleased with their afternoon’s work. Liverpool have now failed to beat United in six Premier League games since since a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford in March 2014 (D2, L4).

WHAT’S NEXT FOR UNITED?

Another tough trip awaits, this time as the Reds travel to Portugal to face Benfica at the Estádio da Luz. United got off to the perfect start in the UEFA Champions League after a 3-0 win over Basel before an emphatic 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow in Russia. We are all hoping United can back that up with another win on Wednesday with kick off at 19:45 BST.

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MOVIE TILL 9 OCT 2017

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BPL G7 : MANCHESTER UNITED 4 CRYSTAL PALACE 0

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Romelu Lukaku matched Andrew Cole’s Manchester United record of scoring seven goals in his first seven league matches as he added to earlier strikes from Juan Mata and a double from Marouane Fellaini in a thumping 4-0 win over struggling Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. The result means Jose Mourinho’s men leapfrog Manchester City, albeit temporarily, at the top of the table.

Mata sent United on their way after just three minutes, latching on to Marcus Rashford’s cross, before Fellaini converted Ashley Young’s delivery just after the half-hour mark.

The big Belgian then grabbed his second at the start of the second period, nodding in Rashford’s wicked free-kick, before Lukaku completed the rout late on by tapping in from close range. At the other end, David De Gea’s clean sheet means the Reds have now equalled their best-ever clean sheet record at the start of a Premier League campaign.

Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia and Fellaini were all fit to start, while Rashford and Mata also returned to the starting XI, and it was the Spaniard who repaid Mourinho’s trust in him after just three minutes.

Arriving into this one on the back of a trip to Russia meant the Reds could perhaps have been forgiven for a sluggish start, but Mata had other ideas, as he tucked in Rashford’s pull back after the young prodigy had turned Joel Ward inside out before handing it on a plate for the tricky playmaker to tuck home.

United seemed to take the foot off the accelerator as the first half wore on. That allowed Roy Hodgson’s men to enjoy a flurry of corners, before De Gea was tested for the first time via a powerful effort from Bakary Sako, which the Spaniard did well to palm away.

Then, it was as if United had told themselves ‘enough was enough’ as, against the run of play, the Reds doubled their lead via Fellaini, who volleyed home Young’s pin-point cross at the back post.

The Reds wrapped up three points early in the second half as Rashford swung in a dangerous free-kick from the left, which was diverted in via a glancing header from Fellaini.

Young tried his luck from 20 yards, while at the other end Sako miscued a header before blazing over from 25 yards as Palace looked to grab their first goal of the season.

Lukaku almost netted his 11th goal of the season but he dragged his shot wide from 15 yards; however, the big striker was not to be denied moments later as substitute Anthony Martial played his impactful part once again, pulling the ball back for Lukaku to equal Cole’s mark.

The Reds have now scored four goals in a game six times this season and the win matched United’s record tally of 19 points after the opening seven Premier League matches, set in 1999 and again in 2011.

THE LINE-UPS

United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Smalling, Jones, Young; Matic, Fellaini, Mata (Herrera 77), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 65), Rashford (Martial 71); Lukaku.

Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Darmian.

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Sakho, Delaney, Van Aanholt, Townsend, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Schlupp (McArthur 68), Puncheon (c) (Riedewald 68), Sako (Ladapo 74).

Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Mutch, Lee.

TALKING POINTS

MAROUANE IS MOURINHO’S KEY MAN
In the absence of Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini has proved his worth once again in recent weeks. He returned from injury against Palace and doubled his tally for the season, meaning he now has four goals in all competitions. Let’s hope the big Belgian can continue his impressive form.

ROM’S RECORD ROARS ON
The Belgian striker scored two goals in Wednesday’s 4-1 triumph at CSKA Moscow and Lukaku’s sensational goalscoring form continued on Saturday as he tapped home late on for his 11th in 10 games. After matching Cole’s United record, how many more will he score?

WHAT’S NEXT FOR UNITED?
Arguably the Reds’ biggest test thus far lies in the next fixture, following the international break, as Mourinho’s men travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday 14 October (kick off 12:30 BST). The trip to Merseyside will be a stern test; United v Liverpool encounters are always fierce encounters and this one is sure to be no different. It’s set to be a cracker!

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UEFA Champions League G2 :CSKA MOSCOW 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 4

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Manchester United seized control of UEFA Champions League Group A in merciless style on Wednesday night, putting fellow matchday-one victors CSKA Moscow to the sword with Romelu Lukaku’s double, Anthony Martial’s penalty and a Henrikh Mkhitaryan strike. Konstantin Kuchaev’s injury-time reply was scant consolation for the hosts.

Three of United’s goals came in a superb first period for Jose Mourinho’s men and it was Lukaku who began the rout with a comfortable far-post header from Anthony Martial’s left-wing cross. The ecstatic 833 Reds fans gathered in the top tier of the stand above him had an early reward for their loyalty.

The Army Men almost found an instant reply with Alan Dzagoev thundering a low drive towards goal and David De Gea stretching out his right hand to divert it wide. That attack was a unique early foray into United’s half by the hosts, who were otherwise hemmed in at the back by the aggressive running of Martial, Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in particular, with the Armenian again making an art form of performing on the European stage.

Mkhitaryan was denied a goal that his early sparkle merited when left wing-back Daley Blind returned the ball to him in the box and his finish was kept out by the legs of the experienced CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. The no.22’s penalty-area presence did pay off soon after, however, when he was brought down by Georgi Schennikov and Martial stepped up to send Akinfeev the wrong way from the spot.

Aleksandr Golovin had inadvertently teed up the earlier shot on target from Dzagoev with an embarrassing air-kick but the much talked-about 21-year-old certainly connected with the ball when he drifted in from the left, only to see his shot bend beyond the far post.

That fleeting moment of youthful rebellion seemed to tweak the tails of United’s tigerish attackers, with Lukaku pouncing on another Moscow mis-kick to put his team further ahead. CSKA centre-back Vasili Berezutski swung a boot inaccurately towards Martial’s less than deadly cross and the Reds’ no.9 moved on to 10 goals for the season with probably his most simple finish for the club so far.

As if going 3-0 down wasn’t demoralising enough for CSKA, they had more discouragement when De Gea brilliantly tipped over a Fedor Chalov shot that might have beaten a weaker goalkeeper, while Vitinho’s powerful effort into his grasp and another low drive from Dzagoev were mere meat and drink for the Spaniard.

Akinfeev’s parry to prevent Lukaku claiming a hat-trick while half-time coffees were still being drained was a more spectacular save and he seemed to have his goal covered when Blind rose highest to head captain Ashley Young’s cross over the bar.

The CSKA goalkeeper was exposed when his fine stop thwarted Martial but gifted Mkhitaryan with an irresistible opportunity to make it 4-0 on the rebound.

The Armenian’s replacement on the hour-mark, Jesse Lingard, immediately tried to get in on the act from Martial’s through-ball but Akinfeev brilliantly denied him and ultimately was the reason why the Reds didn’t quite rack up a bigger score.

The final say in terms of the scoresheet was had by CSKA substitute Konstanti Kuchaev as the no.89 breached the United rearguard to finally put the ball in De Gea’s net, but it was only the smallest of dents in what was a very decent night’s work in Russia for Mourinho’s rampaging Reds.

THE LINE-UPS

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev (c); Vasin, V Berezutski, Ignashevich; Wernbloom; Fernandes, Dzagoev (Milanov 72), Golovin, Schennikov; Vitinho (Kuchaev 84), Chalov (Zhamaletdinov 66).

Subs not used:
 Pomazun (GK), A Berezutski, Nababkin, Natcho.

United: De Gea; Young (c) (Darmian 66), Lindelof, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Matic, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Lingard 60), Martial (Rashford 72); Lukaku.

Subs: Romero, Tuanzebe, McTominay, Mata.

WHAT NEXT FOR UNITED?

The Reds return to action sooner than is ideal after arriving home from a long Champions League trip at 4am on Thursday morning – the next game is at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, the club’s first traditional kick-off time at home this season. At least Jose Mourinho’s men are at Old Trafford and the opposition could be tougher than a Crystal Palace team still seeking their first goal of the Premier League campaign after six games, four under the sacked Frank de Boer and two under his replacement Roy Hodgson.

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BPL G6 : SOUTHAMPTON 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 1

LUKAKU 04
Manchester United extended the club’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season to six matches by recording a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Southampton.

Romelu Lukaku’s first-half strike was enough to claim the away win for the Reds, who remain on the same points tally as rivals Manchester City, 5-0 winners at home to Crystal Palace.

The match kicked off in almost perfect conditions, as the Southampton sunshine beamed down on St Mary’s. There were few chances in the opening quarter of an hour, a long-range attempt form Henrikh Mkhitaryan being the only effort on goal and that was comfortably gathered by Fraser Forster.

United broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Ashley Young’s left-wing cross found Lukaku, who was waiting in the six-yard box. Despite Forster producing a fine save from the striker’s initial header, the ball dropped kindly to the Belgian and he dispatched his second chance with an effortless tap-in.

Having taken the lead, Jose Mourinho’s men began to take control of the match, moving the ball around quickly and leaving the Southampton players to chase. At half-time, the Reds looked good value for the lead.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s side restarted the game well and their second-half improvement could have yielded an equaliser 12 minutes from time if Oriol Romeu had been able to steer his close-range effort inside the far post, instead of rolling it fractionally wide.

Southampton’s main focus of attack was balls into the box for Shane Long, although a combination of United’s Phil Jones and Eric Bailly remained resolute, managing to clear the danger well when required.

United substitute Ander Herrera had a fantastic opportunity to double the lead soon after coming on – Lukaku pulled the ball back but the Spaniard lifted it over the bar.

Although the Reds produced less of an attacking threat in the second half, a strong defensive display ensured that David De Gea was left without any major saves to make as the visitors sealed the victory. However, it was still a tense finish for all concerned and United manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stand by referee Craig Pawson in added time.

THE LINE-UPS

Southampton: Forster; Cedric (Ward-Prowse 83), Hoedt, Yoshida, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Tadic, Davis (c) (Gabbiadini 72), Redmond, Long (Austin 83).

Subs not used: McCarthy, Van Dijk, Pied, Hojbjerg.

Booked: Long

United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Bailly, Jones, Young; Matic, Fellaini; Mata (Herrera 62), Mkhitaryan (Smalling 75), Rashford (Blind 91), Lukaku.

Subs not used: Romero, Carrick, Lingard, Martial.

Booked: Young, Lukaku, Valencia, Herrera

TALKING POINTS

Lukaku’s strong start continues

It really has been a dream start for Lukaku at United and the stats speak for themselves. No one has scored more than his six Premier League goals in their first six starts for the Reds – the only player to match that is Louis Saha. He is also averaging a goal a game from his eight starts in all competitions and has scored in all of his last four appearances.

Young thriving at fullback

Having come in at right-back in the Champions League against Basel, Young has now played at left-back in the last two Premier League games and all three have ended with a clean sheet. Although Young is playing further back, he’s still been able to display his attacking strengths, getting an assist both against Basel and by putting in the cross for Lukaku’s opener.

Reds’ road trips

Five out of United’s next six matches will also be away from home, so Jose Mourinho and his side will be pleased with the promising form when travelling – from three away games so far, the Reds have kept two clean sheets and picked up seven points from a possible nine.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR UNITED?

United are in Champions League action on Wednesday (27 September) with a trip to Russia to face CSKA Moscow. The Reds then round off a busy month with September’s seventh match being at home to Crystal Palace next Saturday.

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MOVIE TILL 24 SEPT 2017

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MOVIE TILL 21 SEPT 2017

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