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Zlatan Ibrahimovic rescues point for Man United vs. Liverpool

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late header saw a pulsating clash between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool end in a 1-1 draw.

Unlike October’s drab goalless draw at Anfield, the 50th Premier League meeting of the sides lived up to the prematch hype.

Jurgen Klopp’s visitors had looked set to condemn the hosts to defeat after James Milner thumped home a first-half penalty — but United showed impressive resolve to force a late leveller through Zlatan Ibrahimovic .

A draw was probably fair given how the match had panned out, although the result does little to boost either side’s title chances.

Liverpool’s breakthrough came when world record signing Paul Pogba handled in the box and Milner smashed home.

But the France midfielder’s blushes were saved six minutes from time by Ibrahimovic, who directed home Antonio Valencia’s cross to snatch a point.

The result ended United’s nine-match winning run in all competitions and leaves them sixth in the Premier League, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Liverpool move up to third but are seven points off the top after both league meetings with United ended in draws for the first time since the 1987-88 season.

A crackling atmosphere failed to translate to the field early on as Liverpool pressed and United patiently tried to unlock the opposition’s back line.

Jose Mourinho’s side were the first to eke out opportunities, with the lively Anthony Martial sending a floated cross to the back post where Zlatan Ibrahimovic  was unable to make a clean connection.

A long ball was the next to pose a problem as Dejan Lovren’s sloppy backpass was chased down by Zlatan Ibrahimovic  and Simon Mignolet’s clearance ricocheted off the veteran Swede to land on the roof of the net.

Moments later it was class rather than clumsiness that gave United a chance. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played a fine through-ball to Pogba, who smartly shifted his feet but saw his shot bobbled wide.

It was a chance that appeared to wake Liverpool up. Trent Alexander-Arnold, the 18-year-old making his first league start, saw a shot blocked before trouble stemming from a poor Phil Jones touch was swept up by Marcos Rojo.

However, from resulting corner Pogba clumsily handled and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Milner made no mistake.

United attempted to immediately fight back from the 27th-minute setback, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic  seeing a fizzing free kick from the edge of the box stopped by Mignolet.

The Belgium goalkeeper then denied Mkhitaryan as he raced through with half-time approaching.

Wayne Rooney replaced Michael Carrick when the teams re-emerged, but Liverpool threatened first when a curling Divock Origi strike was arcing home until a late block.

At the other end, a slip from Alexander-Arnold almost gifted the home side a way back, with United breaking at speed and Mkhitaryan hitting a cross that just evaded Martial.

Philippe Coutinho replaced Origi as Klopp moved to freshened up his attack for the final 30 minutes — a decision that almost paid dividends within 30 seconds as his flick found compatriot Roberto Firmino.

 But the Brazilian was denied by David de Gea, who also kept out an Adam Lallana snapshot, before a break in play when Rooney caught Milner’s ankle, the United captain somehow escaping a card.

Georginio Wijnaldum failed with a flying header as Liverpool threatened to hurt the hosts again, although United were ratcheting up the pressure and Rooney, unaware offside had been flagged, forced Mignolet into a smart save.

But Liverpool’s resolve finally broke with six minutes remaining as substitute Marouane Fellaini flicked a header against the far post and Valencia powered in a cross that Ibrahimovic directed home off the underside of the bar.

Both sides pushed for a late winner as temperatures rose, with the fourth official coming between Klopp and Mourinho after Firmino and Ander Herrera had clashed towards the end.

Credit:@PA SPORT

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