Now Jurgen Klopp knows how special Anfield can be: How and why Liverpool beat Manchester United
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that last night's Europa League win over Manchester United reminded him of the Anfield before he joined Liverpool. Here is a breakdown from last night's action.
Three talking points
Anfield responded to Klopp’s rally cry
Finally Jurgen Klopp may have a sense of what Anfield can be like. He's witnessed the stadium when the fans are arriving rather than leaving early, as has been the case on a couple of notable occasions so far in his reign.
The Kop was packed 30 minutes before kick-off, louder before a ball was kicked than for most of the games of his tenure to date. The pre-match rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was probably the longest the stadium has heard.
The task for Klopp is to build a team worthy of such occasions – and capable of ensuring there are far more of them. There was certainly an extra yard in the step of the Liverpool players in the early stages, players from both sides evidently affected by the atmosphere. The gauntlet has been thrown to the Stretford End ahead of the second leg.
Better late than never with Sturridge’s penalties
Daniel Sturridge was notorious by his absence when Liverpool were beaten in the penalty shoot-out against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup. He insisted on picking up the ball when the opportunity came here.
No doubt there was plenty of frustration in his left-footed strike to put Liverpool ahead. In the striker’s defence, he could barely walk at full-time at Wembley – and he was absent in the next game – but his determination to take responsibility on this occasion would have delighted his manager.
Liverpool’s successive defeats to United heading into this game were largely a consequence of being bereft of the strikers that ripped their rivals apart when Sturridge was in tandem with Luis Suarez. The difference when Sturridge is on the pitch and in the mood demonstrates the side is different proposition with him.
Rashford on the wing? Welcome to the LVG philosophy
So you have a young striker who has emerged from the youth ranks and appears to have solved your goalscoring problem. He is a natural in front of goal and has in the matter of a few games made a conservative side seem like it can score plenty. What do you do? Send him to the right wing and hook him off after 45 minutes, of course.
There could have been no more depressing sight for United fans than Marcus Rashford scurrying up and down the touchline chasing Philippe Coutinho as much as spending time in the opposition box.
Some managers see a player in their natural habitat and want to change them to prove their tactical intelligence. Whatever the job of Rashford, or how effective he might be at filling the ‘system’, he will always enjoy himself as a striker. Give him the chance and he’s shown he can score goals. So keep him upfront and don't treat him so shoddily.
Who was man of the match?
The highest compliment you can give the Brazilian is this was a performance that truly carried echoes of Luis Suarez at his finest. Firmino is still some way from meeting those heights on a consistent basis, but he deserved his goal and thrived in the atmosphere.
He terrorised the United defence and forced the mistake for Liverpool’s second. For United, David de Gea was their saviour just as he was in the recent league game. Where would this tie be without him? He kept United decent before half-time with saves to deny Coutinho, Lallana and Sturridge.
Liverpool could have been out of sight before the hour when De Gea produced another fingertip save from Coutinho’s volley, but Firmino was the star.
How they reacted
Louis van Gaal:
"Liverpool created an atmosphere that was fantastic. We could not cope with their pressure but still they have chances but De Gea was fantastic I think. But we we gave a cheap penalty and in the second half we changed the shape and then we have much more contribution of the game but we didn't create much chances I think and yeah, they scored another cheap goal.
"That's difficult because 2-0 is a very difficult result for us. We have to create an atmosphere also like these fans have done.
"Yeah but I've seen the video tape, I think also the guy who gives the pass was already offside. When you are very sharp with the penalty which was also out or in on the 16 metres you must also be sharp here.
"The referee cannot see that because he's hauled him outside the box and he is falling down and is kicked by Memphis. You can't see that in one second. It is then for me a cheap penalty but they deserve it! Liverpool deserve the goal but it is cheap.
"I don't know if that is like that. I haven't seen that but I think also I have to say Fellaini was one of the best players on the pitch and I'm very sorry when he makes a mistake like that. I don't have seen it.
"We have to create the atmosphere what Liverpool has done and give pressure to them. We have done that in the second half but not in the first."
"It was not too bad to be honest. Of course it was pretty good, we had a good start and a good finish. We could have scored one or two goals more, I know that's crazy against Man Utd but in the end 2-0, if you say me this before the game I take it. It's a result, we know it's not over but it's the best thing you can do.
"A great experience and a great atmosphere. I'm so pleased for all the people who've had some harder times this season with us.
"We gave them no time and we've defended the long balls really good. With Fellaini it's really difficult but from the first to the last it was really good.
"I'm really pleased for [Joe Allen]. Tonight he showed how strong he is, the same with Origi when he came on. Everything worked tonight.
"We had so many difficult situations in this season so now we want to take all we can get for the rest of the season."
How the teams rated - by Luke Edwards
Simon Mignolet - could have taken a seat in the Kop in the first half, as he was little more than a spectator. His night did not get any busier after half-time. Did what he had to do well though 6
Nathaniel Clyne - marauding full back display of the highest quality from the right-back who won his side’s penalty with a clever blindside run. Not many better in this sort of form 8
Dejan Lovren – one mis-timed tackle as Depay skipped clear down the right apart he dealt with everything United offered, which was not much 7
Mamadou Sakho – the definition of solid. One hand off that knocked Juan Mata over bringing a cheer from the home crowd. Good in the air and on the ground. Unconventional at times, but impressive 7
Alberto Moreno – was loudly reprimanded by Jurgen Klopp for allowing Marcus Rashford to scare him in a 50-50 tackle but otherwise efficient enough 6
Jordan Henderson – guilty of trying to be Steven Gerrard at times when he is far better just being Jordan Henderson. Relished the occasion and prompted Liverpool’s play. Had a big part to play in second goal. 7
Emre Can – a surprisingly comfortable evening for the German as he was able to push forward and add numbers in attack because of United’s cautious approach 6
Adam Lallana - unlucky not to score when he was denied by reactions of De Gea. Not his fault but he is made to look functional by the skill of those around him at times. Still a good display 7
Philippe Coutinho – a constant source of problems for United with his quick feet and movement. Should have scored but stabbed ball weakly allowing De Gea to save . Deservedly booked for a dive in the second 8
Daniel Sturridge – he is still feeling his way back to his best but certainly adds another dimension to Liverpool’s attacking play. Took his penalty well under pressure but faded after half time 7
Roberto Firmino – the Brazilian is getting better and better. Like Coutinho he is a player who makes things happen with the ball at his feet. Deserved his goal, capitalising on a mistake by Carrick 7
Subs: Allen for Sturridge 64, Origi for Firmino 83
Manchester United 4-3-3
David De Gea – still the best goalkeeper in England by some distance and made two excellent saves in the first half to keep United in the tie and another from Coutinho in the second 9
Guillermo Varela – had plenty to worry about defensively as Liverpool dominated the first half but when he did get forward delivery was poor. Failed to improve in new formation 6
Danny Blind – does not look like a centre-back but he did well enough in the first half to help repel waves after wave of attacks and just as comfortable further forward in the second half 6
Chris Smalling – a worryingly shaky performance from the England international who almost gifted Sturridge a goal with a missed header and looked vulnerable when players ran at him 5
Marcos Rojo – an uncomfortable evening as Firmino and Clyne kept flying at him and he looks short of match fitness. Happier in three man defence in second half 6
Marounane Fellaini – largely anonymous in terms of a link play but important defensive clearances and if his teammates could spot when he has pulled off to far post he might be dangerous at the other end. Missed half chance late on 4
Juan Mata – tried to prompt play in his usual manner but was deprived of the space and time to influence the game before half-time. Still looks the only player likely to find a killer pass in this United side 6
Morgan Schneiderlin – not his best game as United were over-ran in the first half and was guilty of giving the ball away far too often. Seemed to struggle with the pace of Liverpool’s players 5
Marcus Rashford – pushed out to the right flank he spent most of the game in midfield positions. Committed and disciplined but that was about it. Taken off at half time 5
Anthony Martial – just as Wayne Rooney discovered, it can be thankless task playing as the central striker in this van Gaal side and he rarely saw the ball for 45 minutes. Given more support in the second but could not influence game 5
Memphis Depay – a bad night. Gave away a penalty when he allowed Clyne to get the wrong side of him and could not make anything happen offensively. 4
What the teams must work on this week
Jurgen Klopp's side have a week off to prepare for the second leg. Klopp can rev up the energy levels and his side can head to Manchester with confidence. They’ve started to show increasingly positive signs. Wrapping up Roberto Firmino in cotton wool might be an idea after this performance.
United may have been criticised heavily but they can secure a Wembley place by beating West Ham. It’s been evident for a while the LVG philosophy is not for bending so expecting a methodical side to suddenly become entertaining is futile. Whatever happens in the second leg – or indeed for the last few months of this season – this style is a betrayal of Ferguson’s legacy.