December 16, 2018

Super-sub Shaqiri sends Liverpool top

Super-sub Shaqiri sends Liverpool top


Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to make an instant impact with two second-half goals as Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield.

Liverpool took a deserved lead through Sadio Mane’s neat control and finish from a fine Fabinho assist (24), but Alisson was at fault for United’s equaliser as he dropped a cross into the path of Jesse Lingard, who finished with ease (33).

Though United improved in the second half, Liverpool regained their lead through sub Shaqiri as his shot from 12 yards deflected off Ashley Young and in off the crossbar (73), just three minutes after the Swiss had come on.

Shaqiri scored again just seven minutes later with another deflected effort from 20 yards, and the result means Liverpool are a point ahead of Manchester City after 17 games. United remain sixth, 19 points off the leaders.

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United have now also conceded more goals this season (29) than in the entire 2017/18 season (28), while Liverpool’s 36 attempts on goal against their old foes was the most by any team in the Premier League this season.

It was all Liverpool during a frantic start, as David de Gea was tested early by Roberto Firmino’s low effort from the edge of the box, tipping the ball away to his left.

Liverpool got the goal their start deserved midway through the half as Fabinho brilliantly picked out Mane in-between the United defence, before the forward took the ball down and tucked it under De Gea.

But United were handed an early Christmas present as Alisson spilled Romelu Lukaku’s simple cross from the left, allowing Lingard to turn the ball home with ease from close range.

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Though Paul Pogba was once more an option from the bench, Jose Mourinho decided to introduce Marouane Fellaini at half-time in place of Diogo Dalot, and the Belgian proved handy in United’s own box by making several important clearances from Liverpool’s regular corners.

Liverpool nearly regained their lead shortly after the break as Firmino danced his way through the United defence, only to see his poked effort turned away low by De Gea, and though the visitors forced a few attacks, Liverpool did eventually get their second.

After De Gea flicked away Mane’s cross at the byline into the path of Shaqiri, the summer signing struck a low effort which deflected off Young and beyond the stretch of De Gea.

His second goal came in similar circumstances, deciding to take on a shot from the edge of the box, before seeing it deflect of Eric Bailly this time and into the left corner.