An 85th-minute equalizer from Adam Lallana — his first goal since May 21, 2017 — earned Liverpool a dramatic point from Old Trafford on Sunday, extending Manchester United’s winless streak in league play to four games. It was a gut punch to the home side, who’d largely dictated the run of play for the entirety of the match.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjær at times staring forlornly into the distance like a man that knows Massimiliano Allegri is learning English, United immediately set about destroying the recent narrative with supreme verve in a rivalry match that, like so often before it, quickly descended into the old cliché of blood and thunder.
The United players tasked with unsettling Liverpool in the middle of the park — Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira — combined for an impressive performance that mitigated the threat of Liverpool’s decorated midfield.
Up top, Liverpool’s usual fluency and cutting edge deserted them. With Mohamed Salah ruled out with an ankle injury, the in-form Sadio Mané went missing while failing to register a shot all match.
It was Salah’s replacement, Divock Origi, who was somewhat at fault for United’s opener in the 36th minute. Liverpool supporters will have every right to claim that Victor Lindelöf illegally went through the back of Origi while the Belgian was in possession, but the Swedish defender was guilty of no more than a slight tap of Origi’s shinguards. Origi went flying in search of the free kick but referee Martin Atkinson wasn’t interested in the sales pitch.
United broke the other way through Daniel “Self KO” James. The Welsh winger was another standout performer for United, and his final ball to setup Marcus Rashford for the tap-in was inch-perfect.
Liverpool momentarily believed it’d scored the equalizer shortly before halftime, but the VAR correctly ruled it out because Mané had embarrassed Lindelöf only after using his hand to control the ball.
Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool but it's disallowed as the ball hit him on the arm. pic.twitter.com/o4gFcUJusf
As we rolled gently towards the match’s conclusion, all three points seemed destined for United. Liverpool had been stymied, repressed and found-out at every turn. Jürgen Klopp threw on Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain, Lallana and Naby Keita, and it was Lallana who finally injected a bit of invention into Liverpool’s play.
In the 85th-minute, he got on the end of an Andrew Robertson cross to suck the air out of Old Trafford.
While Ashley Young wasn’t close to Lallana, the biggest culprit has to be Marcos Rojo. After essentially playing himself off the Argentina national team after a horrendous 45-minute cameo against Germany during the international break, here was Rojo abdicating his position entirely while blitzing towards the near post.
It’s impossible to understand what he was thinking.
Adam Lallana as easy as you like pic.twitter.com/VNDFdDr2XF
The draw leaves Liverpool six points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table. Manchester United is in 13th with 10 points from nine games.