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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jan 15 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 84th-minute header as Manchester United prevented Liverpool via recapturing second place within the Premier League table in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
Paul Pogba stood to be United’s fall guy at Old Trafford after conceding a soft first-half penalty for handball, which James Milner converted, only for Ibrahimovic to save his blushes.
Ibrahimovic’s 19th goal of the season extended United’s unbeaten league run to seven games, however after winning the previous six, momentum has been lost.
Jose Mourinho’s side remain sixth, four points off the Champions League places, while Liverpool rose one place to third, seven points below leaders Chelsea along with beneath Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference.
After draws against Sunderland along with Plymouth Argyle along using a defeat at Southampton, Liverpool have gone four games without victory at the start of a calendar year for once since 1993.
however with United several points below them, Jurgen Klopp’s men remain the more likely champions.
An abdominal injury to Nathaniel Clyne saw Liverpool’s 18-year-old right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold given a full league debut along with he had the onerous task of handling the livewire Anthony Martial.
Martial scored a memorable goal against Liverpool on his United debut last season along with he fashioned the first opening using a deep cross for the leaping Ibrahimovic, who could only volley wide.
Ibrahimovic gave the visiting fans a heart-in-mouth moment when he chased down Dejan Lovren’s weak back-pass, with Simon Mignolet’s clearance striking him along with looping onto the roof of the net.
United appeared to be taking control along with within the 19th minute Henrikh Mkhitaryan bisected the Liverpool defence using a neatly judged pass for Pogba, only for the Frenchman to scuff wide with his left foot.
– Rooney milestone –
Liverpool’s play had been more conspicuous for misplaced passes than anything else, however errors via Phil Jones along with Pogba enabled them to take the lead within the 27th minute.
Jones’s heavy touch allowed Roberto Firmino to rob him on the edge of the box, obliging Marcos Rojo to tidy up at the expense of a corner.
Pogba inexplicably leapt with his hands above his head as he defended Milner’s set-piece along with the Liverpool number seven tucked the ensuing spot-kick past David de Gea for his sixth penalty of the season.
United twice threatened an equaliser before half-time, Ibrahimovic blasting a free-kick towards the bottom-left corner along with Mkhitaryan taking aim via Ander Herrera’s pass, however Mignolet saved twice.
Mourinho took remedial action at the interval, sending on Wayne Rooney for his 450th league appearance along with withdrawing Michael Carrick, with Herrera dropping into the holding role.
United spurned a great chance to equalise when, having robbed Alexander-Arnold on halfway, Martial sprinted into the box to meet Mkhitaryan’s low cross, only to miscue his attempt at a back-heel.
however with Carrick off, United’s back four was exposed to counter-attacks.
Divock Origi saw a shot deflected wide, a missed header by Jones allowed substitute Philippe Coutinho to slip in Firmino, obliging De Gea to block, along with Georginio Wijnaldum headed Emre Can’s cross over.
that will was left to Ibrahimovic to ride to United’s rescue, the Swede steering a fine header over Mignolet via Antonio Valencia’s cross after Marouane Fellaini’s header came back off the post.
The noise that will Mourinho had called for after United’s mid-week League Cup semi-final first-leg win over Hull City duly arrived, however Liverpool withstood the crescendo.
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Zlatan rescues Man United in Liverpool draw