A tactical battle of a North-West derby at senior level, slated for its monotonous structure, was combated by a more exciting encounter between Manchester United and Liverpool's under-23 sides as they drew 1-1 in Premier League 2.
Big money signings, however, were still on show as Liverpool used Danny Ings, Mamadou Sakho, Marko Grujic, and Tiago Ilori. United, once more, needed plenty of defensive work as Ings, alongside the exciting Harry Wilson and others, threatened Sam Johnstone's goal on multiple occasions. The hosts, too, were an attacking threat.
Matty Willock, the midfielder playing at striker for Warren Joyce's United side, still without a natural striker in the squad, had an effort curl wide of Kamil Grabara's left post after snatching the ball for himself on the edge of the penalty area.
Wilson puts Liverpool in front at half-time
Liverpool took the lead through the instinctive creativity and talent of Wilson, moments after the visitors struck the post through Danny Ings. Connor Randell followed up after Ings' header powerfully rebounded into his path, but his shot was cleared. Once more, however, the ball fell kindly for Liverpool and as a shot came into a crowded penalty area, Wilson flicked the ball into the left corner despite having his back to goal.
Chances were irregular, no side dominating the other. Trent Alexander Arnold, involved with the first team sporadically under Jurgen Klopp, forced a good save from Johnstone, intelligently parrying away from goal, stopping Liverpool from pouncing on a potential rebound. Minutes earlier, striker Ings fell with a neck injury but assured club doctors he was okay to continue, and did indeed see out the 90 minutes.
Willock had a dipping shot fall nicely into the hands of Kamil Grabara while Scott McTominay, returning from injury for United, held up play superbly despite being on his own on the counter-attack, before offloading to Willock. The stand-in striker's lay-off to Joe Riley was too weak and Liverpool intercepted but United's persistence earned them possession back and Redmond cut inside from the left flank and struck the crossbar with power, having beaten Grabara.
Harrop nets penalty equaliser
United came close to a late first-half equaliser, particularly after excellent work from Matthew Olosunde on the right flank. They came out of the break with the same intensity and McTominay earned a 48th-minute penalty, pulled back by Chirivella following a run down to the byline before cutting back inside the penalty area. Josh Harrop dispatched the spot-kick well, beating Grabara despite the Liverpool goalkeeper diving the right way.
After a frantic first ten minutes of the second half, chances became rare, although a personal battle between Ings and Johnstone did develop as Liverpool continually threatened the hosts' goal. An excellent cross from Randall was inches too high for Ings as he was free in the box. The best chance of the second half for Liverpool, donning their yellow away kit with red trim, was as Ings was left unmarked, through on goal, only to be denied by an excellent stop from Johnstone, in the end a matchsaving save.
Marko Grujic had a free header bounce wide of Johnstone's post, a clear chance that he should at least have got on target and challenged Johnstone from a free-kick. Liverpool looked the better side in the closing stages, but couldn't quite beat a resilient United, guilty of poor clearances far too often. The hosts will be happier with the points being shared, playing without a natural striker against a very strong, expensive Liverpool under-23 side.