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Europa League: Man Utd just can't Kop with pressure

Manager Van Gaal admits United were blown away by Liverpool in 0-2 defeat at Anfield

Liverpool: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said his team had been simply overwhelmed by Liverpool's high pressing during their one-sided 0-2 Europa League defeat at a raucous Anfield on Thursday.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (in red) shoots past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea (left) to score his team’s second goal during their UEFA Europa League Round-of-16 first leg tie at Anfield in Liverpool on Thursday. Daniel Sturridge scored the first goal for Liverpool, who won 2-0. Pic/AFP
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (in red) shoots past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea (left) to score his team’s second goal during their UEFA Europa League Round-of-16 first leg tie at Anfield in Liverpool on Thursday. Daniel Sturridge scored the first goal for Liverpool, who won 2-0. Pic/AFP

Daniel Sturridge, with a penalty, and Roberto Firmino scored as Liverpool claimed a deserved win, and the hosts might have put the last 16 tie to bed had it not been for United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Ex-United players Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, analysing the game for BT Sport, delivered stinging criticisms of their old team's display — the former branding it 'shambolic' — and Van Gaal conceded his side had struggled with the Liverpool's intensity.

"I have seen we did not cope with the pressure, the high pressure of Liverpool," Van Gaal told his post-match press conference after the first ever European meeting between England's two most successful clubs.

"We had expected that and for me it was a surprise we did not cope with that because they did it the same way in the home match this year that we played against them (which United won 3-1). Because they provoked first, we could not play the ball from David de Gea to Daley Blind or Chris Smalling. They put a lot of pressure and we couldn't cope," said Van Gaal, who described both Sturridge's 20th-minute penalty, awarded after Memphis Depay tugged back Nathaniel Clyne, and Firmino's late effort, which stemmed from a loose Michael Carrick clearance, as 'cheap'.

Dortmund 3-0 Spurs
Meanwhile, a Marco Reus brace saw Borussia Dortmund beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 in their last 16, first leg.

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