Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho’s stylish goal earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Thursday as Jurgen Klopp’s men eliminated their arch foes from the Europa League.
Trailing 2-0 from last week’s one-sided first leg, Louis van Gaal’s United claimed a foothold in the last-16 tie when Anthony Martial won and scored a 32nd-minute penalty to restore hope at Old Trafford.
But Coutinho’s goal on the stroke of half-time knocked the wind from the hosts’ sails and sent Liverpool through with a 3-1 aggregate victory, leaving the FA Cup as United’s last chance of salvaging a piece of silverware from their troubled season.
“Phil (Coutinho) had a a genius moment, wonderful,” said Klopp, whose side will learn their quarterfinal opponents in Friday’s draw.
“It was good, it was intensive, we deserve (to be in) the next round and it feels really good. It was really hard work again.”
United are due to face West Ham United in an FA Cup quarter-final replay, but in the meantime must switch their attentions to preventing Liverpool from overtaking them in the battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League, starting with Sunday’s trip to Manchester City in the derby.
Liverpool advance revitalised, having become the first English team to eliminate United from European competition, with the memory of last month’s penalty shootout loss to City in the League Cup final fading fast.
“It is very disappointing,” said Van Gaal.
“We could have the chance, that is the feeling in the dressing room. We have created enough chances to win.
“They gave everything. More than everything. I am pleased that the fans saw that and gave them applause at the end.”
United were outplayed from start to finish at Anfield last week, but seemed determined to assert themselves in the return by fair means or foul — Marouane Fellaini catching Roberto Firmino with an early elbow.
After an enterprising start, they created a cluster of chances around the 20-minute mark.