Manchester United drew 0-0 with Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, as a game of missed opportunities and injuries saw both sides emerge with a solitary point.
A series of misfortunes saw United use all three of their substitutions in the first half, while the Reds lost Roberto Firmino to an ankle injury. Few chances were created, with Mohamed Salah blasting an ideally situated free-kick over the bar.
Despite a frenetic final fifteen minutes, neither side was able to find the breakthrough, and the two rivals sides were forced to accept stalemate after a frustrating encounter for both teams.
Here's how the season's most eagerly anticipated match played out over the ninety minutes...
KEY TALKING POINT
The first half of the match bore striking a similarity to the harrowing opening scene of Steven Spielberg's masterpiece 'Saving Private Ryan', as United players toppled and hobbled around the pitch nursing a litany of troublesome injuries. Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, and even substitute Jesse Lingard had to leave the field after just twenty minutes of action.
The injury problems completely undid United's first half game plan, as their expected bullish approach was cut short by a string of enforced substitutions.
1 - Jesse Lingard is the first player to be substituted on and off in the first half of a Premier League match since Kevin Long for Burnley v Newcastle United in January 2015. Fleeting. #MUNLIV pic.twitter.com/qdA0maywSS— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 24, 2019
The United fans were baying for blood, but their side were unable to reproduce the clinical edge that has seen them romp to victories under caretaker boss
Starting XI: De Gea (6); Young (8), Smalling (6), Lindelöf (6), Shaw (7); Herrera (N/A), McTominay (6), Pogba (7); Mata (6), Lukaku (6), Rashford (6).
Substitutes: Pereira (6), Lingard (N/A), Sánchez (6)
STAR MAN - Ashley Young
His blunder just seconds into the match almost gifted Liverpool an early lead, but he didn't put a foot wrong from then on. The veteran full-back kept the likes of Salah and Sadio Mané quiet for the duration of the match, and was repeatedly on hand to hurl in last ditch challenges and make crucial interceptions to help his side.
Bizarrely, his performance went down like a lead balloon on social media, with United fans tearing in to the England international:
Ashley Young not good enough at the top level.— Individual 1 Complexifier LUHG (@The_High_Sparow) February 24, 2019
If Dalot isn't ready next year then Woodward must make a first-choice RB a priority.
Cant help but laugh everytime I see Ashley Young as captain for Man Utd!! #MUFC— Gareth Hobley (@garethhobley) February 24, 2019
Ashley Young is terrible!! He should be playing for Sheffield Utd not Man Utd #MUNLIV— Artz Marshal (@Artz_Marshal) February 24, 2019
Ashley Young is doing my head in.— Doc (@Doc_Joshi) February 24, 2019
KEY TALKING POINT
It was billed as a must-win game for Liverpool, who had the chance to move three points ahead of Manchester City with a victory. Unfortunately for Reds supporters, their side failed to capitalise on a host of defensive errors from United - with Firmino bizarrely opting to pull out of a challenge with David de Gea just seconds into the game.
The real Sliding Doors moment was Firmino not nicking the ball from De Gea in the first minute when he seemingly could've done.— Huw Davies (@thehuwdavies) February 24, 2019
Liverpool's defending has been superb this season, and it was as solid as it's ever been under Jürgen Klopp on Sunday afternoon. However, the attacking players lacked any real potency, with talismanic forward Salah putting in an uncharacteristically underwhelming performance.
The stage was set for a season-defining performance, but the Reds just weren't able to deliver.
Arguably, losing Firmino in the first half robbed Klopp's side of their usual flow and swagger, and their front three looked a shadow of its former self when Daniel Sturridge stepped in to fill the Brazilian's boots. All this being said, a draw is far from a nightmare for Liverpool, who could look back on this as a precious point in a title-winning campaign.
Starting XI: Alisson (6); Milner (7), Matip (7), van Dijk (6), Robertson (6); Henderson (6), Fabinho (8), Wijnaldum (7); Salah (6), Firmino (6), Mané (6)
Substitutes: Sturridge (6),
STAR MAN - Fabinho
It's taken Fabinho a fair while to get accustomed to Premier League football, but the Monaco man is starting to show why Liverpool splashed an eye-watering £43.5m to sign him last summer. Back in his favoured midfield position, the Brazilian bulldozer bossed the midfield for his side, and gave the defence some Fort Knox level security.
Here's how his performance went down on social media:
Fabinho has been glorious so far.— Laura Mary McCabe (@LauraRebelSolo) February 24, 2019
Fabinho has been the best midfielder on the pitch without a doubt.— Jonathan Fowler (@JonathanFowle10) February 24, 2019
Fabinho is absolute class man.— - (@AtAnfieldRd) February 24, 2019
Fabinho is dominating Old Trafford as if it's his mum's playground, what a player!— Rollins (@BassamLFC) February 24, 2019
Next up, United travel to Crystal Palace for some midweek Premier League action. The Eagles powered to a 4-1 away win over Leicester City on Saturday, and will be in fine spirits ahead of the Red Devils' visit.
Liverpool host Watford on Wednesday, who are also coming off the back of a fine result; the Hornets hammered Cardiff City 5-1 on Friday night, with former Barcelona man