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Liverpool 2-0 Man United: Reds’ intensity blows bitter rivals away

Liverpool v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool (11) celebrates with Emre Can (23) as he scores their second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 10, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield on Thursday, with the Reds now the heavy favorites to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals at the expense of their rivals.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated the first leg from start to finish, with Daniel Sturridge converting a penalty kick in the first half and Roberto Firmino grabbing another in the second.

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In truth, it could’ve been worse for United but David de Gea but in an inspired display to somehow keep the Red Devils in the tie. Just about, anyway.

The second leg takes place at Old Trafford next Thursday, as the first-ever European competition between these bitter rivals was a night to remember for Liverpool.

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After a frantic start which saw Jordan Henderson thunder into a tackle on Morgan Schneiderlin, the game calmed down but then in the 19th minute it exploded back into life.

Nathaniel Clyne burst into the box and Memphis seemed to pull back the Liverpool man just inside the box. Penalty kick to the Reds and a yellow card for Memphis.

Sturridge stepped up and slotted home the PK despite De Gea getting a touch on it, as Anfield erupted. 1-0 to Liverpool.

Buoyed by their opener Liverpool poured forward as Sturridge’s shot was mishit and found its way to Philippe Coutinho five-yards out but he too struggled to get clean contact and De Gea clawed the ball away to safety.

De Gea was again called into action in the first half as Chris Smalling slipped at a vital moment and the Sturridge was clean through on goal but his hammered effort was blocked by the sprawling Spaniard. De Gea also denied a point-blank effort from the brilliant Adam Lallana and United had their goalkeeper to thank for still being in the game at half time.

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Michael Carrick replaced Marcus Rashford at half time as United tried to shore things up by going to a three-man central defense but it made no real difference.

De Gea, again, made a superb fingertip save from Coutinho who blasted a superb effort in on goal from distance, with the Red Devils struggling to create any opportunities of their own.

Things did get better for United as the second half progressed with Anthony Martial challenging Simon Mignolet but Liverpool’s goalkeeper punched the ball to safety.

Henderson skewed an effort just wide after Lallana set him up, with the home side looking the most likely to add another rather than United grabbing an equalizer.

Soon after, Liverpool did go 2-0 up as Henderson was played in down the right -- he looked to be just offside when the ball was initially played -- and cut the ball back for Lallana who fed Firmino to finish at the Kop end. 2-0, and it was nothing more than the hosts deserved as the Brazilian attacker had his third goal in as many games.

Late on United pushed hard to grab a crucial away goal with Marouane Fellaini heading just wide but heading into the second leg at Old Trafford next week, they have to claw back a two-goal deficit after a hugely disappointing defeat to their fierce rivals.

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