Coutinho’s Magic

The pressure continues to mount on Man United boss Louis Van Gaal, after an ultimately tame performance against arch rivals Liverpool in the Europa League at Old Trafford condemned his side to exiting the competition in the last 16. With a huge Derby game against Man City at the weekend, and a potentially very tricky trip to London to face West Ham in the FA Cup, LVG appears to be running out of chances to save his Utd career.

In the second leg’s early exchanges Utd did create chances but nothing clear-cut, whilst Liverpool carried a threat on the break. With the home side needing two goals to bring themselves level on aggregate, they did take a 1-0 lead on the night when Martial scored from the penalty spot (having been brought down by Clyne). However, Liverpool would grab an equaliser – and crucial away goal – on the stroke of half-time.

Philippe Coutinho has blown hot and cold during his Liverpool career, but last night’s goal was a moment of sublime beauty that sucked the spirit out of Utd and put Liverpool firmly in control of the tie. Having skipped down the left flank, dodging defenders as he went, Coutinho found himself in the penalty area but rapidly running out of room. Knowing that Utd ‘keeper De Gea can make a save or two didn’t stop him from making the effort – and a delightful dink of the ball over De Gea and into the net ended the game as a contest.

For Klopp, things would appear to be looking up. He has steadily impressed his style and character upon Liverpool, and has done so only with the players he had when he arrived. With a full pre-season and signings of his choosing, Klopp can hopefully set higher targets for the Reds next season. Van Gaal will probably be watching from the sidelines.

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