Manchester United added to Liverpool’s woes as Bruno Fernandes’s pinpoint free kick earned his side a 3-2 win in a blockbuster FA Cup fourth-round clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Portuguese, on as a substitute, stepped up to bend a right-footed strike beyond Alisson in the 78th minute to book a last-16 tie for his side against West Ham United.
Mohamed Salah scored both of Liverpool’s goals, the first to give his side an 18th-minute lead before Mason Greenwood levelled, and then again in the 58th minute after the outstanding Marcus Rashford had slotted United ahead.
A much-improved Liverpool looked the more likely winners but it was Fernandes, so often United’s attacking spark, who sealed it with his 28th goal in all competitions for the club since his debut last February.
Bruno Fernandes’ winner against Liverpool. Sit back and enjoy. pic.twitter.com/e7R8pAraPX
The tie proved an absorbing tussle, in marked contrast to the turgid 0-0 stalemate between the sides at Anfield in the Premier League last weekend.But that was of scant consolation for Liverpool who have now won only once in seven games in all competitions.
United, on the other hand, are riding the crest of a red wave and have been beaten only once since going out of the Champions League to RB Leipzig in early December, a run which has put them at the top of the Premier League.
“We played some really good stuff, good goals, we have to defend well against them and we managed to react well,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
Liverpool, playing in their unfamiliar blue away kit, looked much more like their old selves as their misfiring forward line clicked back into gear.
They went ahead in the 18th minute in tried and tested style — Roberto Firmino slicing open United’s defence with a superb pass to Salah who dinked a cool finish over Dean Henderson.
United took only eighth minutes to respond, though. Paul Pogba won a tackle on the edge of his own box, Rashford advanced before delivering a ‘quarterback style’ pass that Liverpool’s James Milner failed to cut out.
The ball arrived at Greenwood who took a touch before burying his shot past Alisson.
Another Rashford raid just before the break ended in Pogba flashing a shot just wide when he should have hit the target.United were ahead shortly after the restart when Greenwood slid in Rashford who guided his shot past Allison.
Back came Liverpool with Milner wasting a glorious chance to score before, a minute later, Edinson Cavani sloppily gave away possession in a dangerous area and Firmino’s ball in was dummied by Milner with Salah snaffling the chance.
Both sides hunted the winner but when Cavani was fouled on the edge of the area, Fernandes meted out punishment.
“When you leave him out like I did today, he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free kicks so I was pretty confident he could score one if he got the chance,” Solskjaer said.
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