Football: Liverpool plan Manchester United's Europa League demise

Striker Daniel Sturridge (right), who scored a penalty in the first-leg victory, said his side will abide by the "Liverpool way" and drive home the advantage when they face Chris Smalling's Manchester United in the second leg of their Europa League last-1
Striker Daniel Sturridge (right), who scored a penalty in the first-leg victory, said his side will abide by the "Liverpool way" and drive home the advantage when they face Chris Smalling's Manchester United in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 encounter. PHOTO: REUTERS

Merseyside team vow to be positive at Old Trafford, while Spurs face uphill task at home

PARIS • Five-time European champions Liverpool will aim to finish off eternal rivals Manchester United when England's two most successful sides clash in the Europa League last 16, second leg at Old Trafford today.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool are well placed to reach the quarter-finals of a competition that realistically represents the best chance for either club to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino scored as Juergen Klopp's side dominated the first European meeting between the two Premier League giants, and Sturridge says Liverpool's mindset will not change despite their advantage.

 

"We'll approach the second leg exactly the same as we did the first leg. That's the only way we know," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"The Liverpool way is to win games so we will go into the second leg and be positive. The confidence is there within the camp and we are just looking forward to every game. We are mentally prepared for every job we have ahead of us."

COMEBACK STILL POSSIBLE

We need to have a good start on Thursday, with intensity. It's like a final for us. We need a comeback and I'm sure that the atmosphere in Old Trafford will take us closer to that goal. I'm sure it's possible.

JUAN MATA, on Man United's bid to overcome their 0-2 first-leg deficit against Liverpool.

United face a tough task to turn things around as Liverpool have kept four straight clean sheets in Europe and are unbeaten in nine games in this season's competition.

However, Juan Mata insists there is still hope for United as they bid to keep alive their quest to become just the fifth club to land all three major European trophies.

"We need to have a good start on Thursday, with intensity. It's like a final for us. We need a comeback and I'm sure that the atmosphere in Old Trafford will take us closer to that goal. I'm sure it's possible," said the Spaniard, who missed Sunday's FA Cup 1-1 draw with West Ham through suspension.

Borussia Dortmund will seek to protect a 3-0 lead as they head to Tottenham on the back of their biggest win against an English side.

Spurs paid the price for resting Harry Kane and leaving Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela on the bench as they were outclassed by Thomas Tuchel's German title challengers.

However, Mauricio Pochettino's men are undefeated in nine European home games, winning their last two at White Hart Lane by three-goal margins, although the Bundesliga giants represent a step up in class from previous opponents.

The Argentinian has urged his players to put in their best, saying on the club's website: "That will be difficult, 3-0 down, but we will try to win the game and turn the tie around. It will be difficult because we have Borussia Dortmund in front of us and I think they are one of the best teams in Europe, but we need to try."

Elsewhere, Gary Neville's Valencia must overcome a 1-0 deficit at home to fellow Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao.

The former Manchester United defender was furious after his side crashed to a 1-0 defeat against local rivals and La Liga's bottom side Levante over the weekend.

"We have to pick ourselves up immediately. Our attitude has to change, simple as that. We're not playing like that on Thursday night," Neville told reporters.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


MAN UNITED V LIVERPOOL

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TOTTENHAM V DORTMUND

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VALENCIA V BILBAO

Singtel TV Ch111 & StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 2am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'REDS PLAN DEVILS' DEMISE'. Print Edition | Subscribe