Anthony Martial raised Manchester United hopes in the first half, winning and converting a penalty, but Brazilian play maker Philippe Coutinho produced a moment of magic on the brink of half time to put the Reds back on a level pegging.
The arch rivals finished the second leg with the score at 1-1 at Old Tafford, ensuring that Liverpool’s 2-0 victory at Anfield was enough to take them to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. For Manchester United, it was their latest failure after getting knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and losing their way in the race for the Premier League title.
Manager Louis van Gaal was still optimistic after the match, despite the Red Devils’ chances of featuring in European competition next season now appearing smaller.
“I am not angry and I am not frustrated,” said Van Gaal after the match, according to the Guardian.
“I was very proud of my players. I was very pleased that the fans also recognised that. They applauded after the match despite the fact we were out of the Europa League. That was remarkable, I think. But we have played like Liverpool played in the home match at Anfield.
“We have done that. We have created a lot of chances in the first half. We scored a penalty and then had chances from [Jesse] Lingard, Juan Mata, Fellaini.”
Van Gaal stressed on the need for Manchester United to bounce back against cross town rivals Manchester City in their Premier League encounter this weekend.
Can the FA Cup salvage Van Gaal’s season?
Manchester United have now crashed out of both European competitions in the same season, and are facing an uphill task in the Premier League as well. They are a staggering 16 points adrift of league leaders Leicester City, and are in sixth position currently — three points behind West Ham United. With nine games to go, climbing their way into the top four will be quite a daunting task.
West Ham United are also the team Manchester United have to beat in the replay of the FA Cup quarter-finals. The first match saw the two teams play out a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, and the replay at the Boleyn Ground next month will be crucial to salvaging the Red Devils’ season. Louis van Gaal needs silverware this season to redeem himself, and the FA Cup seems like his best bet now.