LIV 0 MUN 0: Old rivals fail to match the rhetoric once more

Jose Mourinho's tactics at Anfield will again come under scrutiny after a 0-0 draw against a Liverpool side now with one win in eight.

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho vies for the ball   -  Getty Images

Manchester United proved a stifling presence at Anfield once again as it closed out a 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

Jose Mourinho's side was criticised for a lack of ambition in last season's stalemate and any change in approach brought about by its lofty position in the Premier League was negligible on this occasion.

AS IT HAPPENED

United, which edged one point ahead Manchester City at the summit ahead of its neighbours hosting Stoke City, had David de Gea to thank for a magnificent first-half save to deny Joel Matip.

Romelu Lukaku was unable to make it eight goals in as many top-flight games for Mourinho's men when he botched a one-on-one opportunity on the stroke of half-time.

READ: United had no bench - Mourinho explains dour Anfield tactics

If it was mildly perplexing to see a side in such previously prolific goalscoring form isolate Lukaku for long periods before the break, the second period descended into a Liverpool attack versus United defence.

Jurgen Klopp's men were unable to find a way through and have now won just one out of eight in all competitions — Mourinho must hope he does not regret showing so much respect to opponents in such form come May.

Anfield rose to acclaim club great Kenny Dalglish before kick-off, the ground's Centenary Stand having been renamed in his honour, but the early exchanges were desperately short on the moments of attacking inspiration the Scotland international made his calling card.

 

Antonio Valencia made an expertly timed tackle on Philippe Coutinho following a darting crossfield run from Mohamed Salah — Liverpool's brightest forward, who was just unable to turn in Roberto Firmino's deflected 20th-minute cross at the near post.

United enjoyed its best spell of the first half around the half hour, when Nemanja Matic sliced an ambitious left-footed effort just beyond the top corner, but it had goalkeeper De Gea to thank for preserving parity in the 34th minute.

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Firmino was the provider once more and centre-back Joel Matip — still up from a half-cleared corner — prodded goalwards from close range, only for De Gea to brilliantly intervene with his boot. From the rebound Salah skewed his shot wastefully wide

Romelu Lukaku was largely forced to feed off scraps up front for United and drew Anfield ire for clashes with Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren.

In between those flashpoints he should have scored a 43rd minute opener following fine interplay from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial, but Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet stood firm.

 

 

Philippe Coutinho was to the fore as Liverpool began the second half in the ascendancy and his compatriot Firmino saw a speculative strike deflected into the side netting with De Gea wrongfooted.

The Brazilian duo were punching encouraging gaps into United's compact defensive set-up as Georginio Wijnaldum lifted an attempt over before Emre Can failed to convert a magnificent 56th-minute cross from Gomez.

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Coutinho went down tamely in search of a penalty as the hour passed and a seemingly vulnerable United doubled down on their limited approach.

A scampering Salah saw a Firmino cross agonisingly evade him at the far post in the 71st minute and clear-cut chances proved elusive.

Liverpool has 13 points from eight matches and could conclude the weekend in ninth position.

ALSO READ: I could not do this at Liverpool - Klopp assesses Mourinho's negative approach

United will be no lower than second after a dispiritingly limited venture that an injury list featuring Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini should not excuse.

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