ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Man United 2
LONDON • A defiant Jose Mourinho slammed criticism of Manchester United's cautious approach in their 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Liverpool at at Old Trafford yesterday.
His second-placed side moved five points clear of the Reds in the Premier League thanks to Marcus Rashford's first-half double - United's only two shots on target.
They sat back for long periods, content to let the visitors dominate possession and stuck to the game plan even after Eric Bailly's second-half own goal set up a tense finish.
Mourinho was in typically dismissive mood when asked about his tactics. "If people don't think we deserved it, I don't care," he told Sky Sports. "I am a bit tired, we have a match on Tuesday (against Sevilla in the Champions League last 16).
WE DID WHAT WE NEEDED TO
Even in set pieces, corners, dangerous situations we were in control so I think we deserved it.
JOSE MOURINHO, United manager, defending his 'negative' tactics.
WE DIDN'T TAKE OUR CHANCES
We didn't score before half-time and then in the second half we chased the game.
JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool boss., lamenting their poor finishing.
"I don't care what people say. The boys are happy, I'm happy."
He did, however, insist that the win was hard fought and attributed it to his team being in control.
"We can split the halves - United first and Liverpool second but, in my opinion, our first half was a half with goals and danger," he added.
"In the second half, in my opinion, was Liverpool controlling with the ball and United controlling without the ball.
"But our team was always in control. Even in set pieces, corners, dangerous situations we were in control so I think we deserved it.
"In the second half it was not our intention, I cannot say this was the plan. Liverpool pushed us into defensive situation but we kept control. It was a complete performance by us with two different halves."
Rashford chose a good day to remind United of his penetrative qualities. It was the first time since his debut, in February 2016, that he has scored twice.
He did it with England manager Gareth Southgate watching from the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, and the 20-year-old ultimately conjured up the decisive moments.
United moved another huge step closer to guaranteeing a top-four finish by opening up a 12-point lead on fifth-placed Chelsea, before the Blues' game against Crystal Palace.
While Rashford - restored to the team after a difficult period since Alexis Sanchez's arrival - produced one of his better performances of the season, Liverpool's problem was that none of their big hitters reached their usual levels.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Man United 2 Liverpool 1
Newcastle 3 Southampton 0
Everton 2 Brighton 0
West Brom 1 Leicester 4
Huddersfield 0 Swansea 0
West Ham 0 Burnley 3
Chelsea v Crystal Palace Late kick-off
Arsenal v Watford
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Bournemouth v Tottenham Ch102 & Ch227, 11.59pm
Stoke v Man City Ch102 & Ch227, Tuesday, 4am
Mohamed Salah, in particular, took a long time before he started to carry any real menace and it was unusual as well for Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to be so ineffective.
Jurgen Klopp would be entitled to think his men had enough of the ball to rescue themselves up till the closing stages, including six minutes of stoppage time, but they continued to lack their usual wit and creativity.
Just a second defeat in 21 Premier League games leaves them still in third spot, but they could drop to fourth if Tottenham win at Bournemouth today.
"We have to defend these situations better. The two goals made the game not easy, we had a lot of okay moments, two good moments in the first half where we could finish better," Klopp said on Sky Sports. "We didn't score before half-time and then in the second half we chased the game.
"It is really difficult to do against a team like Manchester United."
The Reds did, however, have two strong appeals for penalties waved away, as Ashley Young pulled at Salah's shirt before an Andy Robertson cross rebounded off United captain Antonio Valencia's arm.
But for all Liverpool's intense pressure, they were unable to find a way through a disciplined United defensive "bus".
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE