Not to get complacent, ten Hag subbed on Anthony Martial for Anthony Elanga at the half and it paid dividends. Martial assisted United’s second goal in the 51st minute. Mohamed Salah got one back after a shot attempt from Fabio Carvalho late but the game was out of reach. With the win, United finally kick-start the ten Hag era with three points in front of their home fans, who were treated to Casemiro’s presentation before the game, and their first goal from open play.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are left to pick up the pieces after three games without a win and a performance to forget at Old Trafford as they were outworked on every area of the pitch. Anthony Elanga rattling the post from the first whistle should’ve been a wake-up call for the Reds. Sancho was later given too much time in the box.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was targeted after getting a yellow card for taking down Elanga and appeared to look like someone who was thinking twice on just about every defensive challenges available. Without the protection of Fabinho and with Joe Gomez making his first start since April of 2022, the defense was in shambles. Liverpool did the have attacking chances to try to steal a point on the road. They rattled off 17 shots but with Roberto Firmino not offering a threat filling in for Darwin Nunez — who still has two more matches to serve in his headbutt suspension — things were too predictable and United managed to block everything in sight, leaving ten Hag rather upbeat in his postgame interview overseas.
“We can talk about technical, but it’s all about attitude. Now you see we bring the attitude on the pitch,” he said to Sky Sports. “There was communication, there was a fighting spirit and, especially, there was a team and you can see what they can achieve. Because they can f—ing play football.”
When it comes to attitude, it’s important to note that captain Harry Maguire and the Portuguese castaway Cristiano Ronaldo were dropped from the starting lineup. The attack was expansive with willing runners to play the ball to while the defense was stout without needing to accommodate Maguire’s lack of pace. With a few more performances like this, they could be deemed surplus to requirements along with Luke Shaw after Tyrell Malacia contained Salah, who still managed to find the back of the net late in the proceedings.
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