Liverpool marched into the quarter-finals of the Europa League after quelling Manchester United’s challenge in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Manchester United were not up to the task of overturning the Reds’ 2-0 lead from the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie, managing only a draw in the return leg at Old Trafford. Anthony Martial’s penalty raised United’s hopes but they were shot down on the brink of half time by a brilliant solo goal from Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
Manager Jurgen Klopp singled out two players for praise following the game: his goalscorer Coutinho, and the opposition goalkeeper David de Gea, who once again showed that he was a cut above the rest.
“It was nice and intense,” Klopp said after the match, according to the Guardian.
“You could feel the atmosphere again. They tried to play really offensive but we had our chances, it was Liverpool v De Gea. He was unbelievable again. We scored an unbelievable situation. Fantastic. The game changed. He [Coutinho] is a young lad still but he thinks about it. It was a perfect game and Philippe’s goal a genius moment.”
Europa League could be Klopp’s first gift to the Kop
Progression to the quarter-finals of the Europa League is an important achievement in Jurgen Klopp’s fledgling Liverpool career. Their Premier League hopes are dim at the moment, with the Reds languishing in 8th place, 19 points behind league leaders Leicester City. Liverpool suffered heartbreak in the League Cup as they lost out in the final against Manchester City on penalties, while they were knocked out of the FA Cup by West Ham United.
This means that the Europa League represents Jurgen Klopp’s best chance to bring a trophy to Anfield in his very first season in charge. However his former team Borussia Dortmund are also in the running and are strong contenders for the title following their 5-1 aggregate win over Tottenham Hotspur.