Cocky Coutinho helps steer Liverpool past Man United
An impudent individual goal from Philippe Coutinho steered Liverpool comfortably into the quarter-finals of the Europa League
An impudent individual goal from Philippe Coutinho steered Liverpool comfortably into the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday after a 1-1 draw at bitter rivals Manchester United completed a 3-1 aggregate win.
Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker danced down the touchline and glided past a defender, before chipping the ball over keeper David De Gea from a tight angle to quieten the home crowd, who were sensing a comeback after Anthony Martial’s penalty opener.
Juergen Klopp’s side, who did most of the damage in a 2-0 first-leg victory, will be joined in the last eight by the German coach’s former club Borussia Dortmund, who brushed aside Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 over two legs, after a 2-1 win in London.
The quarter-final lineup was completed by holders Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Sparta Prague and Villarreal with the draw taking place on Friday.
Liverpool’s rivalry with United stretches back over 122 years, but the two sides were playing out their bitter feud on the European stage for the first time in the two-legged tie.
The 196th competitive encounter between the clubs had the potential to be an epic with United needing to come out all guns blazing in order to have a chance.
When Martial was tripped by Nathaniel Clyne with barely half an hour gone and picked himself up to coolly dispatch the penalty the comeback looked on.
United had already squandered a number of chances and Liverpool looked vulnerable, but any momentum the home side had built up was crushed a minute before halftime when Coutinho’s goal left them needing to score four.
The second half was an anti-climax as United looked bereft of belief and Liverpool threatened on the break.
Liverpool are England’s only surviving representative in Europe’s second-tier competition as Tottenham’s Europa League adventure was ended emphatically by Dortmund.