Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United: Mourinho's men frustrate Reds in goalless draw
Liverpool and Manchester United finished goalless as a tense derby failed to live up to the pre-match hype.
The 197th instalment of this fierce rivalry had been dubbed 'Red Monday', with Jose Mourinho's first visit to Anfield as United manager and the hosts' fine form adding extra intrigue to an already mouth-watering clash.
However, the match failed to live up the anticipation as the sides fought out a largely turgid encounter, with a pair of second-half David de Gea saves frustrating Jurgen Klopp's men as the match ended 0-0.
It was the first domestic draw between the sides in five years and their first scoreless meeting since September 2005.
The outcome looked a distinct possibility from the outset as fouls broke up the play, with few moments of note in a dull first half under the Anfield floodlights.
Liverpool improved after the break and would have snatched victory was it not for De Gea, who followed a fine save to thwart Emre Can by denying Philippe Coutinho from 30 yards.
They were the best chances of a disappointing evening on the pitch, but thankfully off it unsavoury chants did not scar proceedings like they had in recent meetings, with a swiftly-removed Munich-related banner on the road into the city not proving the precursor to trouble.
Instead, both sets of fans created an atmosphere as loud as you would expect when the teams emerged at the new-look Anfield, hosting its first night match since the redevelopment that not only modernised the stadium but raised the capacity to 54,000.
Expectations have also grown around the club thanks to five straight wins in all competitions, yet in the first half Klopp's men looked a pale imitation of their exciting, high-pressing self.
United were pressing intelligently but struggling to regularly threaten Loris Karius' goal, with neat interplay between Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic early on failing to bring with it clear-cut chances.
The Liverpool goalkeeper, preferred over Simon Mignolet, had to be alert to thwart Marcus Rashford's fine, low cross, which came shortly after Can's struck over the hosts' first shot of the evening.
Roberto Firmino's header was comfortably saved by De Gea at his near post when the Reds got away their first effort on target soon after, but the visitors were largely cancelling out the home side as frustrations grew.
Ander Herrera and Coutinho exchanged pleasantries after a duel, leading referee Anthony Taylor to call over captains Jordan Henderson and Chris Smalling in an attempt to calm simmering tension.
It took 44 minutes for the referee, under so much scrutiny in the build-up, to dish out his first booking, with Eric Bailly's yellow card for a clattering challenge followed by one for Ashley Young for dissent.
Loud cheers at those decisions were followed by a collective sigh of relief four minutes after half-time.
Klopp emerged early from the break and would have been left rubbing his eyes in disbelief when Karius inexplicably passed straight to Pogba. Fortunately for the goalkeeper Ibrahimovic was offside when the ball was played through, which also saved the veteran striker's blushes after he directed wide.
The striker had another chance soon after easily escaping Nathaniel Clyne to meet a Pogba cross, only to plant his header well wide.
It was a let-off Liverpool almost capitalised on in the 59th minute. Can, making his first league start of the season, slipped behind the backline, wriggled free and got away a shot that De Gea did well to stop.
Adam Lallana, so impressive this term, was brought on in a bid to add extra attacking menace, with Coutinho almost finding just that with an exceptional 30-yard strike that De Gea superbly turned wide.
The Spain goalkeeper was there again to block Firmino, unaware the flag had been raised for offside, as Liverpool pushed for a winner.
Wayne Rooney came on as United looked to reassert their authority, but Marouane Fellaini's header wide was the best they could muster.
Nathaniel Clyne had an effort blocked and a superb last-ditch tackle from Antonio Valencia took the ball away from Firmino at the crucial moment.
Klopp v Mourinho
Jose Mourinho went to Anfield for the first time as Manchester United manager and came away with a point in a turgid goalless draw against Jurgen Klopp's side.
We look at how the two bosses matched up.
Mourinho's game-plan was no surprise: men behind the ball - often six strung along the penalty area - and spoil and frustrate. He employed exactly the same tactics here as Chelsea manager in 2014 and won 2-0 to derail Liverpool's title bid.
Klopp stuck to his principles and tried to implement a high-tempo game but it was more often than not broken down. The German could not conjure up a way of breaking down the packed defence.
Klopp's decision to send on Adam Lallana, Liverpool's best player this season, for Daniel Sturridge on the hour brought new life to the game as Liverpool began to find gaps in United's massed ranks. Divock Origi was another positive move but with five minutes remaining was probably too late.
Mourinho waited until 13 minutes from time to make his first change, with Wayne Rooney replacing Marcus Rashford but it did not change the direction of the game or result.
Uncharacteristically, Mourinho was the more animated of the two, spending more time in his technical area and urging his players to stick to the game plan.
Klopp was more reserved than normal, especially for such a big game, and kept his outbursts to a minimum as frustration took over.
Player ratings: Liverpool
Loris Karius: Never had a save to make but still looked shaky on a couple of occasions coming for a cross and then misplacing a simple pass. 5 (Out of 10)
Nathaniel Clyne: Tried to give Liverpool width against a packed defence but was tracked every inch of the way by Ashley Young. 5
Dejan Lovren: Comfortable enough performance from the Croatian, who had a relatively easy night against Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 6
Joel Matip: Another defender not to be really troubled and had enough time on the ball to be able to bring it out to start attacks. 6
James Milner: Usual above-average performance from Milner and gave Marcus Rashford plenty to think about rather than vice-versa. 6
Jordan Henderson: Plenty of possession in midfield but few options to utilise. Solid enough. 6
Emre Can: His lack of match action looked to be an issue in the first half but he improved as the game went on. 6
Sadio Mane: Was quiet until the latter stages but did not really penetrate as Klopp would have wanted. 5
Roberto Firmino: Busy performance from the Brazilian as always and he improved when moved into the centre-forward position in the second half. 6
Philippe Coutinho: Struggled initially in a deeper-than-usual midfield position but looked Liverpool's greatest threat when restored to his more advanced role and his shot produced the save of the game. 7
Daniel Sturridge: Not much of a supply line for him but not really on it when the ball did come his way. 4
Alberto Moreno (on for Milner, 85): No time to make an impact. 5
Adam Lallana (on for Sturridge, 60): Livened things up and provided the creative spark missing for the first hour. 7
Divock Origi (on for Firmino, 85): Not give much of a chance to break the stalemate. 5
Player ratings: Manchester United
David de Gea: Was the busier of the two goalkeepers but that was not saying much. Produced one brilliant save from Coutinho and another good stop from Emre Can. 7
Antonio Valencia: Held his position along the back four and did not get forward but did the job he was asked to do. 5
Chris Smalling: Kept Daniel Strurridge on a tight leash and ensured there was no way through the middle. 6
Eric Bailly: His physicality proved important at times but was rarely tested at close-quarters. 6
Daley Blind: Was fortunate to find Mane on one of his quieter days but even then did not look too convincing. 5
Paul Pogba: Failed to impose himself on a game in which his side were mainly intent on damage limitation but disappointing none-the-less. 4
Ander Herrera: Probably United's best player, patrolling the midfield with energy and control to stifle the space. 7
Marouane Fellaini: Included to do the defensive work but was relatively anonymous. 4
Ashley Young: Spent most of his time tracking back to make a back-six when Liverpool were in possession and offered little going forward. 5
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Had United's best - and probably only - chance but guided a far post headed back across an empty six-yard box instead of on target. 5
Marcus Rashford: Was never in the game from the start and rarely had a chance to run at Milner. 4
Wayne Rooney (on for Rashford, 77): Given little time to make an impact and did not. 5
Luke Shaw (on for Young, 90): Sent on as a time-wasting tactic. 4
Belfast Telegraph Digital