Liverpool thrash Man Utd: 5 things we learned as five-star Reds send title statement

Liverpool v Man Utd: Pictures

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Liverpool taught Manchester United a footballing lesson after blowing away their old rivals with a convincing 4-0 victory at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s side have returned to the top of the Premier League and are two points above Manchester City as the title battle heats up.

Luis Diaz put the Reds in front after just five minutes and the game was as good as over when Mohamed Salah finished off a superb team move to double the lead.

Diaz then turned provider to set up Sadio Mane for the third goal and Salah added his second late on to pile on the misery for the visitors.

Express Sport looks at five things we learned on a memorable night for Reds fans at Anfield.

Anfield worship their new king

He has been warming up for some time and now, Luis Diaz is ready to show Anfield exactly why he can be their next star on Merseyside. The £49m signing from FC Porto has already excited the supporters with his darting runs and unselfish character.

But this was his chance to shine. Playing from the left flank, Diaz was a constant menace for the United back three and after a beautiful move for the opener, he got off the mark. It was far too easy for Liverpool to pick apart Man United, but Diaz showed hunger and desire to get ahead of the defender and tuck away Mohamed Salah’s cross.

It was much of the same throughout the first half as Liverpool relentlessly produced wave after wave of attack and only the offside flag prevented Diaz from doubling his tally. But in the second half, he made amends with a fine assist for Sadio Mane.

Right now, it feels like his arrival has given Liverpool the edge over Manchester City in terms of strength in depth — and with more performances of this kind, he could follow in Salah and Mane’s footsteps to become an icon at this club.

Thiago takes centre stage

He was born at Barcelona, honed his craft at Bayern Munich and now, Liverpool have the polished, finished article. This was Thiago Alcantara in all of his glory as he strode around the park with a nonchalance that spoke volumes about his level of confidence.

If Liverpool thought they had seen the best of the Spaniard in recent games, this was another treat. Every touch looked as if it was covered in velvet, every pass perfectly measured. The Anfield crowd gasped in awe as some of his delightful flicks and touches, as he quietly demoralised the United defenders.

He had the most touches of any player on the pitch in the first half and that was no surprise, given his involvement in almost every move they had. His involvement in the second goal proved that he has found a role as a No.8 that he is enjoying — and Liverpool are reaping the benefits. With Liverpool’s midfield orchestrator pulling the strings, United never had a chance of stopping them.

United crumble despite defensive change

Ralf Rangnick’s lineup spoke of a manager with his mind on other things after introducing the likes of Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic in his starting XI. But the decision to switch to a back three was questionable at best and disastrous at worst.

It was almost as if Rangnick was trying to avoid a drubbing, rather than going for the win. And why wouldn’t he after United were destroyed 5-0 at their own ground by the opposition only six months ago. With a weakened side and a defensive setup, it felt like damage limitation, but then it had the adverse effect.

Jones, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire were mere pawns in the game Liverpool’s terrifying front three were playing. None of them looked comfortable as Mane, Salah and Diaz pulled them apart at will and Rangnick’s tactical gamble backfired horribly on another miserable Anfield showing from the Red Devils.

Salah ends barren run

Jurgen Klopp said it would only be a matter of time and so it proved. Mohamed Salah found the back of the net after a sumptuous move and a wonderful Mane pass, which was important in giving Liverpool a comfortable lead, but also to end his surprising drought in front of goal.

The 29-year-old had only scored once in his last eight matches and looked increasingly frustrated after failing to net against Manchester United. But the Egyptian has scored 20 Premier League goals this season and was always going to add to it. His first finish was a classic side-footed effort into the corner and his second a delightful chip, showing that if there was any doubt, Salah is over his dip in form.

That will prove to be a huge boost for the Reds in the coming weeks as the title race reaches its climax. If Salah rediscovers his goalscoring touch in time, Klopp will have every right to believe his side are capable of winning the title — and potentially the quadruple too.

Football comes together for Ronaldo

Some things in life can make football feel insignificant. But there also times where football can prove to be the perfect tonic to forget those things — and the moving tribute to a mourning Cristiano Ronaldo was the perfect way to help the Manchester United footballer take his mind off a truly tragic day in his life.

Anfield paid an emotional tribute to Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodriguez, after the Portuguese attacker announced the tragic loss of their newborn son, following the arrival of a baby girl. Considering the situation, it was important for the fans to put aside their rivalries and send a message of support to the 37-year-old — and they did.

Fans stood in unison around the famous stadium, with Liverpool supporters joining their United fans in a moving period of applause on seven minutes. The Kop sung ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and if Ronaldo was watching from afar, it would have surely moved the United striker. For the rest of us, it was a reminder of the power football can have in taking our mind off the troubles that life can bring, and that rivalry is, in fact, something that can be paused.

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