Maguire 4/10 as defensive woes hamper Man United in loss to Liverpool
Manchester United remain five points adrift of fourth place in the Premier League table after they lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield.
Virgil van Dijk opened the scoring for the hosts in the 14th minute as he leapt highest to meet a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner and head past David de Gea, and Mohamed Salah made the game safe in the final seconds as he slotted home on the break as the Red Devils pushed for an equaliser.
United started brightly, and threatened to open up their hosts a couple of times in a sprightly opening 10 minutes, but the final ball let them down. The visitors also had their moments in the second half, and on another day could've left Merseyside with a point.
Watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side attempt to play out from the back is an unnerving sight at the best of times, but against Liverpool's buzzing forward trident, they were forced into a string of errors that landed them in a world of trouble. Poor defending was the undertone for the entire performance, including the game's opener, when meek marking made it all too easy for van Dijk to head home.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Solskjaer's lineup was a clear attempt to contain the Liverpool front three and overlapping full-backs, but the plan was effectively out the window after the 14th-minute opener.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David de Gea, 5 -- The Spaniard had no chance against van Dijk's powerful header to set Liverpool on their way, and he can count himself fortunate that a Firmino goal -- that came as a result of de Gea dropping a looping ball -- was chalked off due to a van Dijk foul on the keeper. Yellow-carded for leading the heated protests against Firmino's strike.
DF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 5 -- The right back was inches away from getting a first-half assist to his name, but he put a tad too much zest on his poked cross that evaded Andreas Pereira at the back post. Defensively, the former Crystal Palace man started solidly but struggled with the overlap and was often caught miles out of position.
DF Victor Lindelof, 5 -- Another one to breathe a heavy sigh of relief following VAR's first-half intervention after his poor clearance was blocked before Firmino struck, and the Swede was one of many United players that was run ragged and showed no composure with the ball at his feet.
DF Harry Maguire, 4 -- Lost the vital aerial dual against van Dijk for Liverpool's winner, and the £80 million man looked woefully out of his depth in what was a clumsy, cumbersome performance that he will want to forget quickly.
DF Luke Shaw, 6 -- Denied Liverpool a certain goal midway through the first half with a last-ditch challenge on Sadio Mane, and was probably United's best defensive player, although that particular bar was only inches high. Yellow-carded for pulling back Salah in the second half, and replaced by Diogo Dalot in the closing stages.
DF Brandon Williams, 5 -- The youngster started brightly and plugged away, but got caught in a complete mismatch with van Dijk and couldn't prevent the Dutchman from out-leaping the United defence to put Liverpool ahead. Subbed off after 74 minutes for Mason Greenwood.
MF Fred, 6 -- The Brazilian wasn't United's worst player by any means, and had a decent second half that featured a couple of driving runs that led to promising openings, but was often chasing shadows when defending his own goal.
MF Nemanja Matic, 5 -- Found himself in the book inside the opening 10 minutes after his boot met the face of Georginio Wijnaldum as the two contested a loose ball, and the Serb had nowhere near enough mobility to keep up with the Liverpool juggernaut.
MF Andreas Pereira, 6 -- The Brazilian had a Gazza at Euro '96 moment when he couldn't quite grow enough to tap in a Wan-Bissaka cross in the closing minutes of the first half, and followed it up shortly afterward with a fizzing effort that was well caught by Allison in the Liverpool goal. Replaced by Juan Mata for the final 16 minutes.
MF Daniel James, 5 -- Wasted a great chance to slide the ball into Martial for a simple tap-in early on, and the Welshman doesn't look at all ready for opponents of this caliber. Attempted in vain to keep up with Salah for Liverpool's second.
FW Anthony Martial, 5 -- A largely anonymous display from the desperately isolated Frenchman, but he simply had to score when he wildly blazed a volley high and wide from 10 yards out in the second half.
Juan Mata, N/A -- A couple of neat touches, but the Spaniard couldn't prize open the Liverpool defence.
Mason Greenwood, N/A -- Almost got himself on the end of a left-wing cross as United searched for an equaliser.
Diogo Dalot, N/A -- Not enough time to make an impact.