Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Score, Reaction from 2016 Europa League Leg 2

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2016

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, center, scores his side’s first goal past United goalkeeper David De Gea during the Europa League round of 16, second leg, soccer match between  Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, Thursday March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

A 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford was enough for Liverpool to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, as they beat the Red Devils 3-1 on aggregate.

An Anthony Martial penalty gave United hope of mounting a memorable comeback, but a superb solo effort from Philippe Coutinho saw Liverpool equalise just before the break.

The hosts produced a far better performance than they did at Anfield in the first leg, pushing forward throughout the game, but Coutinho's goal essentially killed off the tie.

As Squawka Football revealed, the two sides played out a cagey start to the game with neither wanting to concede early on:

Football writer Liam Canning and Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News were among those baffled by Louis van Gaal's decision to deploy Juan Mata on the right flank:

The first real chance of the game fell to Jesse Lingard when Marcos Rojo picked him out with a cross, but Simon Mignolet was on hand to keep out the youngster's header. From the resulting corner, United had another good opportunity to score when the ball fell to Mata eight yards out, but the Spaniard sent his volley wide.

The Red Devils continued to turn the screw, and soon after Martial fired high and wide after cutting inside from the left flank.

At the other end, David De Gea again saved his team when he got down well to deny Coutinho's powerful low shot from outside the area.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 17:  Goalkeeper David De Gea of Manchester United stretches to make a save during the UEFA Europa League round of 16, second leg match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 17, 2016 in Manchester, Eng
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

United were awarded a penalty when Nathaniel Clyne—who experienced a torrid time from Martial the entire halffelled the striker in the area, and the Frenchman coolly sent Mignolet the wrong way, per the Times' Henry Winter:

Daniel Sturridge almost provided an immediate response for the visitors when he rattled the crossbar from a free-kick, and Jordan Henderson wasted a good chance to equalise when he ballooned an effort over the bar after working his way into the area courtesy of a one-two with Coutinho.

The Brazilian grabbed Liverpool's leveller—which required United to score three more unanswered goals—on the stroke of half-time, picking the ball up on the left before leaving Guillermo Varela for dead and dinking the ball sublimely over De Gea, per BT Sport Football:

Bleacher Report UK summed up the reaction on social media:

Despite the difficulty of their task, United refused to give up and pushed hard for another goal after the restart, but an excellent last-ditch tackle from Mamadou Sakho and some wayward finishing from Marcus Rashford denied them further chances.

Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after he caught Dejan Lovren with his elbow, per BT Sport Football:

With United struggling to create the opportunities they enjoyed in the first half, the Belgian was the only one to give Mignolet anything to think about, per Squawka Football:

Liverpool were fairly content to sit back on their lead, but Coutinho forced two more straightforward saves from De Gea on the rare occasions they got forward.

Jurgen Klopp's men deserve their place in the final eight and will now hold serious ambitions of winning the competition, particularly if they can avoid his former side, Borussia Dortmund, for as long as possible.

As for United, turning the tie around was always going to be difficult after their failure to grab an away goal. For the most part, they gave a good account of themselves on Thursday, but the pressure on Van Gaal isn't likely to ease.

Post-Match Reaction

A disappointed Van Gaal believed United created enough opportunities to win, per football writer Chris Winterburn:

Per BT Sport Football, Klopp praised his side's performance and believes they could have scored several if not for De Gea's excellent performance:

The draw for the quarter-finals of the competition will take place on Friday.

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