Well, who saw that result coming? Manchester United got their Premier League campaign up and running with a 2-1 win over rivals Liverpool, who really underperformed at Old Trafford.
Jadon Sancho’s early opener was backed up by Marcus Rashford’s cool finish when one-on-one and while Mohamed Salah made Old Trafford nervous with a late consolation, Erik ten Hag got his first competitive win as United manager to see his side leapfrog the Reds in the Premier League table.
With United now off the mark and questions being pointed at Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, Sky Sports football journalist Sam Blitz runs the rule over the players who took to the field in Monday Night Football.
David de Gea – 6
The Spanish goalkeeper may as well have sat with the supporters for the first hour – he had barely anything to do! De Gea got down well to deny substitute Fabinho and also to deny Martinez an own goal but could do little to stop Salah’s consolation.
Diogo Dalot – 6
The Portuguese full-back occasionally showed lapses in concentration but did enough to keep Luis Diaz and Co at bay. Did well not to get attracted into slide tackles while on a booking, but right-back could still be an area Ten Hag looks to improve on in the final days of the window.
Raphael Varane – 7
The centre-back did not have the sharpest Liverpool attack to deal with, but did cover well for Dalot when Luis Diaz ventured towards the penalty area. Made some sharp tackles in the first half and remained confident while on a yellow card for most of this game. His partnership with Lisandro Martinez worked well and Harry Maguire is expected to watch on from the bench for a little longer.
Lisandro Martinez – 9
What a difference a week makes. Martinez was outfought by Brentford’s attack last week but looked a completely different player at centre-back this Monday. By fouling and shoving him, the Argentine told Mohamed Salah in the first minute that he was not one to mess with, before stopping James Milner with a crucial tackle later in the half. His clearance off line the line from Bruno Fernandes’ near-own goal was more fortunate – but showed his capability of being in the right place at the right time.
Tyrell Malacia – 8
What a game for the young full-back to make for his full United debut, but he did not look out of place as he helped keep Salah of all people quiet, nipping the ball away from his toes very smartly at times. Tough in the tackle and putting in some tricky set pieces, Malacia made it two United defensive summer signings to finally announce themselves at Old Trafford on the night.
Scott McTominay – 8
A solid performance from the Scot – who must have been under some pressure with £70m recruit Casemiro watching from the stands. McTominay showed both a calmness in the tackle and a willingness to get forward, the highlight being a a gorgeous ball for Bruno Fernandes when Anthony Elanga hit the post. The midfielder just needs a good final ball and he can take his game to a good all-round level.
Bruno Fernandes – 7
A real captain’s performance. The Portuguese midfielder was the metronome in United’s midfield and played every pass right in the first half an hour of the game. Fernandes was thankful for Martinez being on the line to deny them an own goal, and his second-half booking simulation made it only two blots in a very fruitful night.
Christian Eriksen – 7
The Danish midfielder looked really cool and composed alongside Fernandes – the way he kept calm and didn’t panic in the build-up to Sancho’s goal epitomised exactly that. Eriksen was also unlucky not to score from a free-kick in the first half. Moved up front late on and his influence waned but a reminder that the Dane can still play at the top level.
Jadon Sancho – 8
His best performance in a United shirt so far? Sancho popped up everywhere in the United attack and unpredictably took up multiple areas in the same way he did at Borussia Dortmund. Sancho took his goal excellently and now it’s a case of replicating these performances more consistently.
Anthony Elanga – 6
The Swedish youngster should have put United in front but only hit the post when put through on goal. Set up Sancho brilliantly for the opener and was always a problem for Alexander-Arnold – his half-time withdrawal for tactical reasons was slightly harsh.
Marcus Rashford – 9
Barging Alexander-Arnold out the way in the opening minutes of the game set the tone for an impressive display by Rashford – who led from the line impressively in the centre forward role. The Manchester United striker got himself in good areas both up front and out wide and finally put a period of poor confidence behind him by slotting home after half-time. A late mazy run in the second half – which nearly resulted in a wonder goal – shows morale is the highest it has been for a while.
Anthony Martial (on for Elanga h/t) – 8
The Frenchman’s link-up play with Rashford and Sancho was a highlight in United’s pre-season and it was seen once again for the game’s second goal. How the striker has been missed in the opening weeks of this season and now Ten Hag has multiple options instead of Ronaldo up front.
Fred (on for Sancho, 71) – 6
Was brought on to shore things up in midfield and Liverpool then got a foothold in the game. The Brazilian looks like he will be the one to suffer in terms of game time when Casemiro gets up to speed.
Ronaldo (on for Rashford 86) – n/a
A late introduction – but most had forgotten he was part of the squad by the time he came on. A testament to how well his team-mates played.
Van de Beek (on for Eriksen, 86) – n/a
Didn’t do much after coming on, but the Dutchman looks very much behind the pecking order.
Alisson Becker – 6
Absolutely not to blame for his side’s performance, even though he was outfoxed by Sancho for United’s opener and was surprisingly beaten in a one-on-one by Rashford. Made up for it by denying Eriksen and Rashford with smart saves – his defence has to do much, much better to compliment his shot stopping skills.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4
Not for the first time in his career – and at Old Trafford against United – Alexander-Arnold’s defensive capabilities were really questioned. The right-back could not handle both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga down the left and was rightly booked for a trip on the latter. Took up decent areas in attack but kept over-hitting his passes. A night to forget.
Joe Gomez – 4
Another victim of United’s left hand side – and Gomez never really looked settled at all in this match. Repeated Nat Phillips’ mistake against Wilfried Zaha and Crystal Palace last week by playing Rashford onside for United’s second. Liverpool’s search for Virgil van Dijk’s perfect centre-back partner continues.
Virgil van Dijk – 4
It looked as if it would be another vintage Van Dijk display when he denied Rashford with a last-ditch one-on-one challenge early on – but then came United’s opener. Just what was the Dutchman doing in not closing down Sancho, who had enough time and space to slot home in the first half? Van Dijk was then nowhere to be seen for United’s second, his partnership with Gomez looked disjointed.
Andy Robertson – 5
Like Alexander-Arnold, was inaccurate when he got forward and struggled to deal with Sancho, especially in the first half. HIs flank really struggled at Old Trafford and while Klopp’s use of a high line is partly to blame, the Scot did not do enough going forwards to justify it and was rightly taken off yet again late on.
Jordan Henderson – 4
The England international did not look settled in the number six role – a position he himself has claimed is not his favourite. Henderson did have more influence when he moved further forward, but it left Liverpool exposed on the counter attack. Could not get in the game so was rightly hauled off for Fabinho, who should have started.
James Milner – 4
The midfielder spent more time bickering with Van Dijk than actually making an impact on the game. United’s midfield three danced around him at times and with almost three 90-minute displays at the start of the season, questions must surely be asked if the 36-year-old can sustain his levels at this high a level. Rightly taken off for Fabio Carvalho.
Harvey Elliott – 5
The youngster took up some good areas but was another player who could not deal with United’s midfield three. Elliott had a couple of half chances at best but his inexperience showed.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Completely anonymous in a first half that rarely saw him appear on the ball. The Egyptian created a good opportunity for Henderson which the Liverpool captain wasted but then ballooned over a decent effort from a corner after the break. His goal late on was his only influential part of the game, but the Liverpool winger knows he can do so much better.
Roberto Firmino – 5
The Brazilian struggled to get into the game and looked rushed back to full fitness. His air-kick in the penalty area after half-time summed up his night. Liverpool and Klopp will be wanting Darwin Nunez back as quickly as possible, as he serves his three-game ban.
Luis Diaz – 6
The Colombian showed some elegant touches and the fact he got both Dalot and Varane booked in the first half showed how dangerous he was. Diaz was well dealt with by the United defence, but the winger needs to do more to take games by the scruff of the neck if he is to replace big-game supremo Sadio Mane.
Fabinho (on for Henderson 59) – 6
Should have scored from a corner but saw his header saved by De Gea. Liverpool did look more composed when he came on, which begs the question: why didn’t he start?
Fabio Carvalho (on for Milner, 73) – 6
Another good addition off the bench for Klopp’s Liverpool and played a role in Salah’s goal. Carvalho did not look out of place at Old Trafford.
Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 85) – n/a
Didn’t have enough time to make an impact.