Manchester United (1) 1-1 (3) Liverpool: Coutinho class ensures safe passage for Reds

Philippe Coutinho cancelled out Anthony Martial's opener with a fantastic dink, ensuring Liverpool eased past Manchester United in the second leg at Old Trafford.

Manchester United (1) 1-1 (3) Liverpool: Coutinho class ensures safe passage for Reds
Manchester United defender's can only watch on as Coutinho dinks de Gea (photo: AP)
Manchester United
1 1
Manchester United: De Gea; Rojo (Darmian 63'), Blind, Smalling, Varela (Valencia 45'); Fellaini, Carrick (Schweinsteiger 71'); Lingard, Mata, Martial; Rashford.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Lovren, Milner; Can, Henderson (Allen 71'); Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino (Benteke 85'); Sturridge (Origi 67').
SCORE: 1-0, Martial 32'. 1-1, Coutinho 44'.
REFEREE: Milorad Mazic (SER): Booked - Blind, Coutinho, Fellaini, Clyne, Schweinsteiger, Firmino.
INCIDENTS: Europa League Last 16 Second Leg.

Liverpool got over a bumpy start to draw 1-1 away to Manchester United in the return leg of their Europa League tie, ensuring that they progressed to the quarter finals of the competition - winning 3-1 on aggregate.

Having left United both shaken and stirred at Anfield last week, the Reds looked comfortable going into the game with a 2-0 lead. The deficit was halved as Anthony Martial tucked away a penalty just past the half hour mark, only for a beauty from Philippe Coutinho to secure the tie for Liverpool.

United on top early on before de Gea spares blushes

Alberto Moreno's hamstring injury, suffered on the eve of the game, forced Jürgen Klopp into playing James Milner at left-back. It was down that wing that the hosts got much of their early joy, with the Reds pegged back to some extent.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were both looking dangerous with their blistering pace, but it was Jesse Lingard who had the best chance early on, from a header no less. Simon Mignolet caused momentary confusion, coming to claim a Marcus Rojo cross only to pedal back, eventually redeeming himself by pushing Lingard's header wide.

Another chance fell to United soon after, the ball dropping dangerously for Juan Mata in the box. Unchallenged from eight yards out, the Spaniard was the ideal man for the job, but saw his effort roll agonisingly wide.

They were almost made to pay for those missed opportunities, as David de Gea was called into action for the first time on the night. Fantastic in the first leg, he showed his quality once again to deny Philippe Coutinho, who had angled a shot low towards the corner following a neat Roberto Firmino dummy.

Martial pen sends Old Trafford wild

That save really was crucial for the home side, who took the lead from the penalty spot just a few minutes later. Nathaniel Clyne clipped a marauding Martial in the box, with the referee pointing to the spot. Martial dusted himself off to take the spot-kick, sending Mignolet the wrong way to open the scoring.

Martial is congratulated after opening the scoring (photo: Ian Hodgson)
Martial is congratulated after opening the scoring (photo: Ian Hodgson)

Often criticised for a lack of character, that couldn't be said of Liverpool following United's goal, as they responded with some dangerous attacks up at the other end. Daniel Sturridge, on the periphery for much of his night, clipped the bar with a free-kick, before an even better chance came along for Jordan Henderson.

It wasn't a golden opportunity, but one that the skipper would have regretted not putting away, as he curled wide following a neat one-two with Coutinho. It was soon forgotten though, with Coutinho levelling the score on the brink of half-time.

Coutinho's wizardry levels things up

Taking the ball on the left wing, what followed next from the Brazilian was quite superb. Guillermo Varela, a youngster blessed with pace, was left trailing in his wake. Coutinho then sailed into the box, keeping his cool, dinking the ball over an astounded de Gea to send the travelling Kop wild.

Coutinho wheels away in celebration after scoring (photo: Ian Hodgson)
Coutinho wheels away in celebration after scoring (photo: Ian Hodgson)

There was one chance for the Red Devils just before Coutinho's goal. Mamadou Sakho had been by far and away Liverpool's best defender in the first half, and he was vital once again, sliding in to block a Rojo shot after the ball fell kindly for the Argentinian in the area.

Old Trafford quietened as Liverpool enjoy more comfortable second half

Coutinho's away goal meant that Louis van Gaal's side had to score three second half goals, and keep Liverpool out, for 45 minutes inorder to progress. The Old Trafford crowd didn't seem to facny their chances, and that showed as the second half began.

Marcus Rashford was struggling up front, given limited service, but failed to set up Martial when the Frenchman found excellent space on the left hand side of the area, Rashford seeing a weak shot trickle wide.

If anything, it was the Reds who looked more like taking the lead from a counter-attack, and perhaps should have when Sturridge lashed wide following more incredible skill from Coutinho - who beat three men before setting the frontman up.

Emre Can, second in line for Man of the Match after Sakho, was impressive both going forward and coming back. Pulling off a cheeky backheel through Daley Blind's legs, the German really should have been credited with an assist for Liverpool's second goal, only for Coutinho to drag his effort straight at de Gea. He did better with a strike from the edge of the area soon after, with the Spanish 'keeper pushing a dipping ball over the bar.

Energetic substitute Divock Origi even helped himself to a couple of efforts on goal, de Gea again standing up to them. 

It didn't matter though, as the away end partied on, Liverpool seeing themselves into the last eight with an assured performance.