Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Ibra rescues point for United

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 5:21 PM
Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right) competes for the ball with Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, yesterday. The game ended 1-1.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic compensated for Paul Pogba's moment of recklessness by scoring Manchester United's late equaliser in a 1-1 draw against fierce rivals Liverpool, a result that damaged both teams' Premier League title chances yesterday.

Ibrahimovic maintained his hot streak with a glancing header in off the crossbar in the 84th minute at Old Trafford, cancelling out James Milner's 27th-minute penalty that was conceded by Pogba's handball.

On the day United rolled out advertising hoardings displaying Pogba's new Twitter emoji, the player himself made a crucial mistake while jumping with his back to the ball at a corner.

Liverpool ended United's nine-game winning run in all competitions six of which had come in the league but dropped seven points behind first-placed Chelsea. Sixth-placed United were 12 points off the leaders.

"We get one point, but we were not on the top of our game. It was a hard fight, a hard game," Ibrahimovic said. "I think we did simple mistakes. We were not comfortable."

Wayne Rooney, needing one goal to surpass Bobby Charlton as United's outright record scorer, came on for the start of the second half but didn't have a genuine chance at a history-making goal in an intense, scrappy match between English football's two most decorated clubs.

United's recent form had raised the possibility of a late run at the title, so this result was a setback.

However, Mourinho's team got some reward with a more direct approach late in the game. Marouane Fellaini came on as a 76th-minute substitute and the tall Belgian made a difference and played a key role in the goal.

His glancing header from a left-wing cross struck the post and the ball eventually made its way to right back Antonio Valencia, whose return cross was met by Ibrahimovic for his 14th league goal of the season. He has scored 11 goals in his last 11 league games.

"They played long balls," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. "It was a wild game."

Milner's penalty was Liverpool's only real chance in the first half, with United having more sight at goal in particular one-on-one chances for Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Pogba skewed his chance wide and Mkhitaryan was denied by Simon Mignolet.

Rooney's arrival in place of Michael Carrick meant the game became more open and disjointed, and Liverpool suddenly looked dangerous on the counterattack, especially after Philippe Coutinho came on as a substitute.

"We didn't reflect the qualities we have and Liverpool have but it was very emotional, intense, aggressive. We fought until the last second," Mourinho said.

"We were the team that attacked and Liverpool were the team that defended."