Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late equaliser in the 84th minute rescued a point for the Red Devils as they drew 1-1 at home to Liverpool in a Premier League match played yesterday.
By Carlo Chikomba
Ironically, on a day when Paul Pogba became the first footballer to have his own limited edition personal emoji on twitter, the Frenchman quickly turned villain as he handled the ball to concede a penalty in the 26th minute of play.
James Milner stepped up to the spot and made no mistake to put the visitors ahead much to the dismay of the Old Trafford home fans.
The world’s most expensive signing would no doubt be grateful to Ibrahimovic as his late header prevented a damaging defeat for Mourinho’s men.
Prior to Milner’s strike, Pogba had missed a brilliant opportunity to put United ahead when he was put through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan with an excellent throughball, but the midfielder could only drag his left-footed shot wide.
Simon Mignolet was on hand to deny Mkhitaryan’s left-footed strike and thereafter Ibrahimovic’s 20-yard free-kick after Divock Origi had brought down Ander Herrera in a dangerous position as the hosts threatened to go ahead in the early minutes of the first half.
However, in the 26th minute, Pogba handled the ball inside the box and the referee duly pointed to the spot with Milner putting the ball in the back of the net to get the visitors ahead.
In the second half, Mourinho brought on Wayne Rooney for Michael Carrick for the United captain’s 450th Premier League appearance as he looked to add more attacking prowess to his squad.
The visitors kept on pressing though, and Origi saw an effort deflected just inches wide, but the hosts were soon getting themselves back in the game when a fast counterattack – incited when Anthony Martial dispossessed Trent Alexander-Arnold on his Premier League debut – led to Mkhitaryan’s cut-back which only just evaded the France forward.
The Liverpool gaffer then introduced Philippe Coutinho from the substitutes’ bench as he sought to kill the match and his change almost paid dividents with the playmaker setting up compatriot Roberto Firmino, only for De Gea to deny the Brazillian with an excellent save.
Juan Mata, who had scored three goals in his last four league games against Liverpool, replaced Martial, but United were finding it more difficult to create openings, Rooney shooting wide from one rare chance.
But at that point it was Klopp’s men who were looking like extending their lead as Adam Lallana was thwarted by another De Gea stop before Georginio WIjnaldum missed the target with a close header.
Then, moments later, Ibrahimovic happened. The Swede struck in dramatic fashion, with a looping header from Antonio Valencia’s cross that had the beating of Mignolet, the move having been kept alive after substitute Marouane Fellaini had headed Rooney’s delivery against the post.
The draw may have effectively ended United’s nine-match winning streak in all competitions, but the Red Devils still sit within five points of second place Tottenham Hotspurs.
Their rivals Liverpool on the other hand, are now without a win in four matches and trail leaders Chelsea by seven having dropped from second to third over the course of the weekend.