Liverpool asserted their dominance in Anfield as they beat a poorly performing Manchester United by 2-0 in their Europa League round-of-16 match.
As both sides meet each other for the first time in a European competition, Liverpool pressed and probed from the start under the floodlights against their longtime rivals.
Daniel Sturridge made the controversial opener from the spot twenty minutes in, after Memphis Depay was penalized for fouling Nathaniel Clyne in the box.
Even if he was playing with a team that seemed to have gave up since the beginning of the game, David De Gea hanged on for Manchester United, making saves after the saves from Liverpool frontmen Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
Indeed, United seemed to hope that their keeper would carry the team through the whole game as both teams head into the break. Even Jurgen Klopp had felt that his team were “too loose” in the second half.
But with a Michael Carrick mistake, Roberto Firmino tuned in a pass from Lallana to make it two for the host. Anfield was ablaze as red and white scarves swung wildly along with a huge waving banner with the words “European Elite.”
It may be a second-tier European tournament, but the atmosphere – red smoke from flares, the celebration from Liverpool fans at the final whistle and The Kop’s pre-game rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone –certainly makes the game reminiscent of any game in the Champions League Final.