The early-season crisis cloud switched from Manchester United to Liverpool after Erik ten Hag’s men claimed their first win of term by 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Jadon Sancho’s cool finish put United in front at the break, a position from which they had never lost to Liverpool in the Premier League, and defeat seemed out of the question when Marcus Rashford doubled their advantage.
Mo Salah ensured a tense finish when nodding home with ten minutes remaining, but Liverpool were unable to create a significant opportunity to secure a point as United held on.
United had started the weekend bottom of the table after their four-goal humbling at Brentford compounded the home loss to Brighton, but Ten Hag’s side responded with a display of determination, aggression and skill.
Sancho showed remarkable composure when putting the hosts ahead and Rashford extended their advantage early in the second half, with Ten Hag’s men holding out for victory after Salah reduced the deficit late on.
It was a nervy conclusion but getting over the line underlined the turnaround in character and performance from last weekend’s loss at Brentford, as well as last season’s humiliations home and away to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
New signing Casemiro will have liked what he saw and was introduced to the Old Trafford faithful before kick-off – but that move was never going to take the edge off United fans’ protests against their despised owners.
Thousands marched to the match and anti-Glazer chants provided a constant backdrop to Monday’s match without detracting from their support of the team, who responded with a quality performance.
Anthony Elanga hit a post and soon set up Sancho to coolly score in a first half that ended with Lisandro Martinez preventing Bruno Fernandes from scoring an own goal.
Anthony Martial was introduced at half-time and put Rashford through to end his 997-minute goal drought in all competitions, with the hosts threatening to pull further ahead before David De Gea’s goal came under late pressure.
United’s number one was unable to prevent Salah’s late header creeping in but the team dug deep to seal the three points, meaning they leapt above Liverpool in the table.