Football Features

Man United 0-5 Liverpool player ratings as Mohamed Salah makes Old Trafford history

By Ben Green

Man United 0-5 Liverpool: Reds run riot as Salah becomes first Premier League player to score hat-trick at Old Trafford

Published: 18:43, 24 October 2021

Liverpool ran riot at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday to put Manchester United to the sword in a 5-0 demolition. 

The Reds scented blood from minute one and went for the jugular, piling the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and becoming the away side with the biggest winning margin in this historic fixture. Mohamed Salah stole the headlines to consolidate his position as football’s best player at the minute with a devastating hat-trick, but goals from Naby Keita and Diogo Jota also put the gloss on an emphatic showing.

Here’s how the players rated at Old Trafford:

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Manchester United

David de Gea – 5 – The Spaniard saw a cricket score manifest itself on the Old Trafford scoreboard, but he wasn’t really at fault for any of Liverpool’s goals. In fact, he even produced a few solid saves, chiefly Alexander-Arnold’s rocket effort on the 70-minute mark.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 3 – Not the biggest culprit in Man Utd’s defence but he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory. Positionally suspect this afternoon and atypically hesitant defensively as Jota enjoyed himself on the flank.

Victor Lindelof – 2 – Exposed several times, Lindelof simply couldn’t cope when Firmino dragged him out of defence and Salah ghosted into the box.

Harry Maguire – 1 – A horror showing from the world’s most expensive defender. Maguire was all at sea for all of Liverpool’s goals, produced an absolute howler for Salah’s second finish as he got his wires crossed with Shaw, and topped things off with a reckless challenge on Jota to earn himself a booking. A truly forgetful afternoon.

Luke Shaw – 2 – Another, like Maguire, who looked lost when Liverpool came charging forward, was involved in that mix-up for Salah’s second, and also picked up a booking for his troubles. His only saving grace were a few flurries forward, but even then this was a performance diametrically at odds with the Shaw showings we’ve come to expect in recent years. ‘Exposed’ does not do justice to openness of Man Utd’s defence.

Scott McTominay – 2 – A statue in the middle of the park, or to be more pertinent given the context, a training cone in Liverpool’s attack vs defence drill. McTominay was positionally inept as Liverpool bypassed him with liquid ease, making an absolute mockery of Solskjaer’s double DM system. This was a sobering, almost chastening experience for a midfielder who has been put under the spotlight in recent weeks.

Fred – 3 – The Brazilian ranks ahead of McTominay for his tenacity and nothing else. Another who was anonymous when Liverpool went up the gears and attacked, with his partnership alongside McTominay resembling a garden fence trying stand tall against an oncoming freight train.

Mason Greenwood – 5 – Lively at times during his first-half stint and looked to make things happen in the rare moments Man Utd broke Liverpool’s high press, but not enough to truly worry Robertson and carry his side forward.

Bruno Fernandes – 4 – An early chance which he blazed high and wide was about as good as it got for Fernandes, who was unable to pull the strings in his typical fashion. There were fleeting moments of creative confidence, but those were extinguished as the game grew on.

Marcus Rashford – 4 – Another who had flashes of coming to life and hurting Liverpool’s defence, but by and large the game passed Rashford by and he nearly cost his side dearly in the first half, with a wayward ball straight into Salah’s path, with his blushes spared by De Gea.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 4 – A frustrating afternoon crystallised by his ‘kick out’ at Curtis Jones, and augmented by an overruled VAR goal. CR7 spoke before the game of adapting and tailoring his game to suit his age, and he certainly looked a 36-year-old player this afternoon. They all did, to be fair, but this was simply not Ronaldo’s night; there would be no Atalanta last-gasp moment. He faded as the clock ticked on.

Substitutes:

Paul Pogba (for Greenwood 45′) – 0 – A 30-minute cameo where he didn’t really do much then produced a horror tackle that forced Liverpool’s second best player off the pitch. A rating of ‘1’ for the red, reduced to ‘0’ for making Keita (who was a genuine joy to watch) leave the turf.

Edinson Cavani (for Bruno Fernandes 62′) – 5 – The game was pretty much dead and buried by the time Cavani entered the fray.

Diogo Dalot (for Rashford 62′) – 5 – No goals were conceded when he was on the pitch, so he gets a ‘5’.

Liverpool

Alisson Becker – 7 – A clean sheet, slick distribution as ever and always an authoritative presence between the sticks. Man Utd certainly didn’t pepper his goal, but when questions were asked, he answered.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9 – Charged forward like Dani Alves in his prime, collected his obligatory assist and kept a clean sheet. You really cannot fault the England international for a display that was emblematic of his meteoric rise to prominence at Anfield.

Ibrahima Konate – 8 – Drafted in for the big occasion, eyes would certainly have been on Konate and how the inexperienced Premier League defender would fare in arguably the competition’s ‘biggest’ fixture. He handled himself extremely well and acquitted himself with merit, forming an near-impervious centre-back partnership with Van Dijk.

Virgil van Dijk – 8 – A classic Van Dijk display. This game was more about Liverpool’s attack, but defensively they were equally as impressive as Man Utd created their fair share of moments, but Klopp’s backline were equal to the test. For his part, the Dutchman led with authority, kept a lid on Ronaldo and was an immovable bulwark.

Andy Robertson – 8 – Lively, energetic, unsatisfied with the scoreline even at 5-0 as he could be heard during Salah’s hat-trick celebrations urging his side on for more. The buccaneering full-back was an ever-willing runner, coped well with Greenwood in the first half, and deserved his clean sheet.

Naby Keita – 9 – In a week where former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann said Keita is ‘not good enough’ to play for the club, the elegant midfield dynamo produced a vintage Liverpool display, encapsulating the high press, high energy that defines Klopp’s side. The Guinea international was simply immense, taking his goal with confidence before teeing up Salah with a pinpoint delivery. Imperious, but deservedly so, as he made Old Trafford his playground this afternoon.

Jordan Henderson – 9 – The press-resistant midfielder buzzed about like an amorous bee. He was like a man possessed, with ‘second wind’ the first phrase in his catechism as he never tired. A world class assist for Salah’s hat-trick was prime Ozil-esque, a piece of instinctive creative genius.

James Milner – 6 – Industrious as ever in his ephemeral display. The veteran midfielder lasted just 27 minutes but the visitors were already two up by that stage and Milner’s insatiable pressing contributed to that early mauling.

Mohamed Salah – 10 – Is Mohamed Salah the best player in the world at this present moment in time? Yes. The Egyptian king turned every moment into magic, rising to the occasion (as he so often does) and bullying a beleaguered Man Utd defence. It was like a sixth-former turning up at a primary school match, Salah was an absolute juggernaut when cantering forward, precise and almost robotic with his finishing. A trademark Salah showing and a hat-trick for the ages! Perfection.

Diogo Jota – 9 – Justified his manager’s decision to select him ahead of Sadio Mane, Jota formed a near-telepathic understanding with Salah, took his goal well, and even claimed an assist as he set up the Egyptian just before the interval. Lively, clinical and devastating.

Roberto Firmino – 9 – Didn’t score, didn’t assist, but did what Firmino often does best: brought the entire attack together with his selfless endeavour. If Salah was the trusty source of goals, Jota the attacking adrenaline shot, then Firmino was the fulcrum, bringing the equation together with his link-up play, movement and awareness. Maguire and Lindelof didn’t know whether to follow or stay put.

Substitutes:

Curtis Jones (for Milner 27′) – 8 – A young midfielder tossed into a tinderbox occasion, and he produced a performance that certainly belies his tender years. Jones replicated the industry of Milner, but added a dash of elegance with his slick passing range and panache.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Keita 64′) – 6 – Came on for the injured Keita and did well enough to see the game out.

Sadio Mane (for Firmino 77′) – 6 – Again, came on late into the game and did well to see out a devastating Liverpool win.

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