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Published: 21:46 | 10/3/16

Advantage Liverpool in Europa League

Sturridge and Firmino score to seal 2-0 win

Goals in either half from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino helped Liverpool to a comfortable 2-0 win over Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash.

Liverpool were simply superb throughout as they completely outplayed United and were only stopped from winning a lot more comfortably by an inspired David de Gea.

Manchester United, on the other hand, were truly awful throughout as they played without any shape or guidance and never looked like taking anything from the game.

The home side started at a thunderous pace as they looked to press United inside their own half and they created their first chance after 17 minutes.

Alberto Moreno raced down the left and curled in a fine cross that was just inches ahead of Daniel Sturridge.

The striker retrieved the cross and pulled the ball into the path of Adam Lallana, but his effort was blocked by the United defence.

It was all Liverpool in the opening exchanges and they deservedly opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 20 minutes.

Nathaniel Clyne burst into the United box before being tugged by Memphis Depay, the referee, somewhat controversially, pointed to the penalty spot.

Sturridge stepped up and just about fired past David de Gea to put his side 1-0 up.

And it was almost two just three minutes later when Sturridge skipped past Marcos Rojo fired the ball towards the back-post.

Philippe Coutinho met the cross and looked ready to tap home before De Gea recovered and produced a stunning save, although the Brazilian really should have scored.

De Gea was again called into action after half an hour when Chris Smalling lost his footing and the ball dropped to Sturridge inside the area but his powerful volley was beaten away by the Spanish keeper.

It was all Liverpool as they looked to kill the game off with a second and they went close again four minutes before the break.

Roberto Firminio whipped in a superb low cross that was met by Lallana six yards from goal but again De Gea was on hand to make a stunning save as he ensured his side went in just 1-0 down at the break.

The second half started much like the first with Liverpool in the ascendency and they threatened after nine minutes of the half.

Coutinho expertly controlled on the edge of the box and hit a thumping volley that was superbly tipped over the bar by the brilliant De Gea.

Louis van Gaal introduced Michael Carrick at half time as United went to a back three and, once Carrick settled the visitors began to exert some control over possession for the first time.

However, it was still Liverpool who looked the more dangerous going forward and they went close to a second after 68 minutes when Jordan Henderson met a low cross but his controlled effort flew just past the post.

However, there was no mistake six minutes later when the home side finally doubled their advantage.

Henderson drilled in a low cross that was only half cleared by Carrick and the ball fell to Lallana who controlled and brilliantly and slipped in Roberto Firmino who fired home to make it 2-0.

United reacted with the introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera and it was the German who created their first chance of the night when he clipped in a cross that was met by Marouane Fellaini but he headed past the post when he should really have hit the target.

United threw men forward in the dying minutes as they looked for a way back into the game but they were unable to find a way past a stubborn Liverpool defence as the hosts eased to a comfortable 2-0 win.

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