Jurgen Klopp Liverpool
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after Roberto Firmino scores in the Europa League match against Manchester UnitedReuters

Liverpool played like they understood the magnitude of the occasion; Manchester United played like this was the final game of the season with nothing at stake. As a result, Jurgen Klopp's men walked away from the first leg of this Europa League last 16 tie at Anfield with a 2-0 lead, a lead which could, and probably should, have been a lot more.

Calling Manchester United lethargic in this game would actually be giving them a compliment, such was their lack of energy and desire to rise to the occasion on a night when these two great English clubs met for the first time ever in Europe.

Liverpool were up for it from kickoff, hustling and bustling the Manchester United players the moment they lost possession, while giving respect to the ball like they should and making it talk as well, every once in a while.

One of those times was when Roberto Firmino played a delightful ball through to Nathaniel Clyne inside the box, with the right-back then falling down under the challenge of Memphis Depay inside the Manchester United box. The Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo pointed to the spot, and while on another day it might not have been given, if ever there was a day where the rub of the green deserved to go Liverpool's way, it was certainly Thursday at Anfield.

Daniel Sturridge stepped up to take the penalty and forced the ball past David De Gea's hands to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

It could have easily been a lot worse for Manchester United at halftime, as Philippe Coutinho, Sturridge and Adam Lallana all saw their shots repelled by the one man who is always up for the occasion in a Manchester United shirt – David De Gea. Had it not been for the goalkeeper, this tie would have been done and dusted with the first leg, but De Gea kept Manchester United in it with a few De Gea-like saves.

He could do nothing about Liverpool's second goal, however, with Firmino, deservedly, adding his name to the scoresheet, thumping the ball home in the 73rd minute, albeit with the hint of a smell of an offside still lingering from the buildup.

The second leg is at Old Trafford next Thursday, and if both teams continue to play in the same manner, there will be only one winner.

Also read