Manchester United Heap Further Misery On Liverpool In FA Cup

Manchester United v Liverpool 2021 FA Cup

Without a win in January, Liverpool suffered further misery at Old Trafford as they were bounced out of the FA Cup at the hands of a resurgent Manchester United.

Despite going ahead with a goal from Mohamed Salah, the Anfield clubs defensive shortcoming were once again exposed, as United ran out 3-2 winners to advance to a Round of 16 showdown with West Ham.

And who put the ball in the Scousers net?

in 1999, on their way to a historic treble, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who grabbed two late goals to send Liverpool packing at the same stage of the competition. Today, with the Norwegian in the dugout, it was Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, and Bruno Fernandes who secured safe passage to the next round for the Red Devils.

After going behind again, United retained their composure, and equalised thanks to a fine finish from young gun Greenwood. united then took the lead through Rashford, before being pegged back by Salah’s second goal in a contest that ebbed and flowed.

United boss Solskjaer was known as a super-sub, so it seemed fitting that his move to bring on Fernandes should prove a master-stroke, as the Portuguese playmaker bent in a beautiful free kick with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the tie.

After the match, Fernandes revealed he has been working hard on his free kicks, hoping for a moment like this on the big stage.

“I think almost every day. Sometimes he [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] has to kick me out of the training to stop.”

“I’m always working on that kind of situation. I like to watch and learn from Juan [Mata] because I think he is a really good specialist. I think in training we stay there most of the time – me and Juan stay longer, but also Alex [Telles], Rashy [Marcus Rashford], Fred also stays with us.”

“Edi before the free-kick told me: ‘try a hard one on the side of the keeper’. I tried it and it went in well.”

Despite his extra reps in training, it wasn’t a cut and dried decision that Fernandes would step up to take the pressure free kick.

“No, no! I think normally a little bit more long distance is for Rashy. I think he feels more comfortable [from there], for me it is the same, to go the [closer] distance. I think closer to the box is better for me, for the kind of shot I have.”

“Of course, if Juan and Alex are on the pitch it’s a chance for them, more on the right side. I think we have good free-kick specialists. I think we have some players who can take [good free-kicks]. It will depend on the moment. In that moment, I felt I was confident to take the free-kick. It was me and luckily it was a goal.”

“I think with this result, with a goal in the last minutes, it would be really good. I think the fans would love it,” said Fernandes.

Well aware of what a Cup tie win against their bitter rivals means to United fans, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to win a thrilling game under the Old Trafford flood lights.

“We really played some good stuff in periods, they were some good goals we scored.”

“We had to defend well against them of course, and I think we managed to react well. Towards the end, there’s always some moments there but we kept them away.”

“I hope everyone enjoyed it. As a coach, you’re so focused on all the little details. Obviously, I could see lots of positives, even though we conceded two goals.“

The boss wasn’t surprised by Fernandes late winner, having seen it in training almost every day.

“Great goal, good free-kick,” beamed our manager. “The thing is when you leave him out, like I had to do this time… I think he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks, so I was quite confident he was going to hit the target.

“If he’s starting the day after the final training session I always send him in, he’s never allowed to practice too much. Yesterday he stayed out and it worked.”

With a quarter final tie against West Ham to come, thoughts of FA Cup glory have been put on the back burner as United entertain Sheffield United in a midweek fixture, hoping to maintain top position in the Premier League.

“Another game on Wednesday night, so no time to rest, no time to celebrate. When we leave the stadium it’s about recovering and getting your head on the next one,“ concluded the manager.

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