United revival in full swing as Fernandes floors Liverpool

2021-01-26 12:06:51

Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring Manchester United's winner during Sunday's 3-2 English FA Cup fourth-round victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford. United will face West Ham in the fifth round. REUTERS MANCHESTER, England-A scream from Andy Robertson was a forlorn attempt to distract Mason Greenwood beginning Manchester United's comeback. The defender won't be the only one shrieking at Liverpool after going out of the FA Cup. Not that everything went wrong for Liverpool, with Mo Salah scoring twice. The Liverpool striker's opener was canceled out by Greenwood and he equalized after Marcus Rashford put United in front. But Bruno Fernandes bent in a 78th-minute freekick to send United into the fifth round with a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Losing compounded a miserable 70 hours that also saw Liverpool beaten at home by Burnley on Thursday in a further blow to its title defense. It was a 0-0 draw with United a week ago that helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side stay top of the standings in the pursuit of the team's first Premier League title since 2013. "We have to sort it together and that's what we will do," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. The excitement lacking in the Anfield league encounter was on show a week later at a freezing and fan-free Old Trafford with the highest scoring match between these fiercest of English rivals since 2010. United was joined by Chelsea, Everton, Leicester and Burnley on Sunday in advancing to the last 16 where it will play West Ham next month. "We gradually, layer by layer, are getting better and better and winning tight games," Solskjaer said. "So the morale and the confidence of course is very good." Liverpool has gone 483 minutes without a league goal but remembered where the net is in the cup. Roberto Firmino threaded a pass to Salah who lifted a shot over Dean Henderson from close range in the 18th minute. But the lead lasted only six minutes. Paul Pogba's tackle gained possession, Donny van de Beek released Rashford on the left flank by the halfway line and a diagonal pass landed perfectly at the feet of Greenwood, who wasn't distracted by the yelling of Robertson to maintain his composure to score. The favor was returned three minutes into the second half. Greenwood played in Rashford through the center and the striker placed the ball in bottom corner for his 15th goal in all competitions this season. But United was made to pay for its slackness. A sideways pass from Edinson Cavani was too casual and was intercepted by James Milner. After passing to Firmino on the left of the penalty area, Milner was inside the box as the return pass came across. But Milner's step-over let the ball roll through to Salah who squeezed a shot through Henderson's legs. The introduction of Fernandes was transformative-as so often since he arrived a year ago. Presented with a chance to grab a winner from a freekick, the Portugal midfielder seized it, bending the ball around the wall into the net. "Yesterday, he was told that he wasn't playing so he stayed out practicing for half an hour to 45 minutes," Solskjaer said. "But it worked and it paid off." United will host West Ham in the fifth round as its momentum continues to build. "You know when you go a goal down the reaction of everyone was really good. We played some really good stuff, good goals. We have to defend well against them and we managed to react well," Solskjaer said. Liverpool has never made it past the fifth round during Klopp's reign, but that will be the least of the German's concerns as he tries to spark a revival from his spluttering team. "There was a lot of good things and some mistakes around the goals. If you want to win here you have to be absolutely top and we were not," Klopp said. Lampard axed Meanwhile, Sunday's 3-1 victory over second-tier Luton Town couldn't save Chelsea boss Frank Lampard from the ax on Monday. Chelsea said it had been a "very difficult decision" to part ways with the 42-year-old, who is the west London club's record scorer. "We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club," Chelsea said in a statement. "However, recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement." Chelsea's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, said: "This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him. "He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers." Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, who was abruptly fired by the French champion in December, is in line to take over at Stamford Bridge, according to reports. Chelsea is struggling in ninth place in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leader Manchester United. Lampard signed a three-year Chelsea deal after arriving from Derby County in 2019. Despite a transfer ban, he led the Blues to the FA Cup final and a fourth-place finish in his first campaign. But a huge outlay of around $300 million on new players including German attackers Kai Havertz and Timo Werner has failed to translate into improved results. Werner's struggles continued against Luton when he had a penalty saved late in the win, which earned Chelsea a fifth-round trip to another second-tier team, Barnsley. AP/AFP