Manchester United dominated Liverpool but had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in a feisty, end-to-end game between arch rivals of English football.
Marcus Rashford and Adam Lallana scored for Man United and Liverpool respectively.
The draw means Liverpool’s bid of equaling Man City’s record 18 straight wins was halted on a day Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed there was still some life left in him and his United side, under the watchful eyes of retired Sir Alex Ferguson who watched on from the directors’ box.
Liverpool were flawless this season coming into this encounter, while Manchester United had won just twice in eight games and were winless in three games.
Mohammed Salah, Liverpool’s Egyptian scorer, was the biggest name missing in the encounter due to injury, while Man United’s Paul Pogba was also sidelined by injury.
Despite the absence of Pogba, United delivered a gutsy and hunger-filled performance, denying Liverpool space and pressing high up the pitch but without much shots for the returning Alisson Becker in goal.
Liverpool had the first clear-cut opportunity on 35 minutes, Sadio Mane carrying the ball over 30 yards before squaring to Roberto Firmino in space but the striker’s feeble shot was held by De Gea.
This seemed to spur United into an attack of theirs from which they took the lead through Marcus Rashford.
The England international finished off a swift counter, converting Daniel James’ low cross after United’s midfielder dispossessed Divock Origi of the ball.
Despite protest from both Jurgen Klopp and his players, VAR upheld the goal, judging the ball was taken off Origi fairly.
Mane thought he had equalised after a horrendous Victor Lindelof mistake.
However, VAR saved the defender’s blushes, judging that the Senegalese controlled the ball with his arm and ruled out the strike.
Manchester United have not lost a game in which they led at half time since 1984 and they nearly doubled the lead again, through Rashford.
The United talisman evaded a defender to work a yard of space but his shot towards the bottom corner narrowly missed target.
Liverpool, however, equalized against the run of play in the 85th via Lallana. The Englishman ghosted in at the far post to tuck home after United’s defence failed to clear a low Robertson cross.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, another substitute, almost snatched a late winner for the league leaders but his low shot evaded De Gea.
VAR checked for a potential Liverpool penalty in the final seconds but was not given as the arch rivals had to settle for a draw.
VAR takes centre stage… again
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system had direct influence on eight of nine games played this weekend.
At Tottenham, it saved Mauricio Pochettino’s blushes as his disjointed team salvaged a 1-1 draw to continue a winless run for both sides.
Abdoulaye Doucoure converted Watford’s early goal and the EPL’s bottom side were denied a stonewall penalty in the first half.
Dele Alli, who controlled a loose ball with his shoulder before tucking into an empty net, scored a late equalizer which required VAR validation despite the system and stadium scoreboard mishap.
While the referee awarded a goal, the scoreboard displayed a “No Goal” decision much to the confusion of all.
VAR luck, however, smiled on Leicester who needed the system to cancel Burnley’s last-minute equaliser, taking the game 2-1.
The club commemorated the one-year remembrance of the death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, former chairman and owner.
One goal each in both half from Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans cancelled Cris Wood’s opener for Burnley, keeping the Foxes, EPL winners in 2016, in the Champions League places.
VAR was also man of the match as Aston Villa scored a last-gasp winner to claim a precious 2-1 win against ten-men Brighton.
Second-placed champions, Manchester City, reduced Liverpool’s lead at the top to five point with a straightforward 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Two quick goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva gave Pep Guardiola’s side a comfortable lead at the break.
Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton
Everton 2-0 West Ham
Wolves 1-1 Southampton
Leicester 2-1 Burnley
Tottenham 1-1 Watford
Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle United
Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich City
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City
Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool