The Associated PressMANCHESTER (AP) — An ugly win for Manchester United. An even uglier loss for West Ham.
United scored twice through Marcus Rashford in the opening 24 minutes, then produced a gritty, ultra-defensive display to grind out a 2-1 win over fierce rival Liverpool and strengthen second place in the Premier League.
“It was perfect, in relation to what the game gave us,” said United manager Jose Mourinho, who won the tactical battle over rival manager Juergen Klopp.
Liverpool’s players failed to recover from a first half in which they were bullied by United, and failed to deal with the hosts’ direct and aggressive approach.
The source of both goals was long clearances by United goalkeeper David De Gea to Romelu Lukaku, whose power and athleticism was too much for marker Dejan Lovren.
Lukaku’s flick-on was seized by Rashford, who drove in the first goal in the 14th minute. Then Lovren fell to the ground in an aerial challenge with Lukaku, whose pass into the area was intercepted only for Rashford to sidefoot home the loose ball.
United packed its defense, with wingers Juan Mata and Rashford playing as auxiliary full backs and central midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay patrolling in front of the defense. Liverpool’s top scorer Mohamed Salah had a quiet day, and was thrown to the ground by Chris Smalling at one point.
Liverpool dominated possession but could only muster one goal, a spectacular miscued volley by United defender Eric Bailly into his own net in the 66th.
United moved five points clear of third-place Liverpool and stayed nine points ahead of Chelsea.
There was as much action in the stands as on the field at West Ham, where home fans invaded the field on two separate occasions to confront players and gathered below the directors’ box to force the club’s owners to be escorted out in the second half of the 3-0 loss to Burnley.
Young fans were pictured taking refuge in Burnley’s dug-out amid the disorder.
“It’s well known fans haven’t been happy for a long time,” said West Ham captain Mark Noble, who grabbed one of the pitch invaders and threw him to the ground in one exchange.
“I’m a human being. I know I’m out on the pitch, under scrutiny, but if someone approaches me I will protect myself.”
Ronaldo scores 2 for Real
BARCELONA (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo overtook Lionel Messi as the Spanish season’s leading scorer over all competitions after his brace led Real Madrid to a 2-1 win at Eibar on Saturday.
Ronaldo’s 32nd and 33rd goals moved him one ahead of his Barcelona rival.
Meanwhile, Messi missed Barcelona’s match at Malaga later Saturday after earlier announcing the birth of Ciro, his third son. Barcelona still won, 2-0.