LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool brought Manchester United crashing down to earth with a stunning 7-0 rout at Anfield on Sunday in the visitors’ worst competitive defeat in more than 90 years.
Only a week after winning the League Cup, United experienced its biggest defeat in the Premier League and the club’s joint-worst loss in all competitions.
United has lost 7-0 on three previous occasions — the last time coming in 1931 against Wolverhampton. The score also eclipsed Liverpool’s previous best victory against United, which was a 7-1 win in 1895.
Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all struck twice and Roberto Firmino scored the other, with six of the goals coming in an explosive second-half performance.
It also delivered a major blow to Erik ten Hag’s four-pronged pursuit of trophies, with a league title challenge now looking increasingly unlikely.
Liverpool, meanwhile, took advantage of losses for top four rivals Newcastle and Tottenham on Saturday to strengthen its own bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Salah became the Merseyside club’s all-time leading Premier League scorer with 129 goals.
Liverpool may have endured a frustrating campaign so far as Jurgen Klopp’s side has struggled for consistency but Anfield was in raptures at the sight of fierce rival United being humbled on Merseyside.
To add to that, the gap to fourth-place Tottenham is down to three points, with Liverpool still having a game in hand.
While Liverpool eyed the top four, United knew anything other than a win would be a huge blow to its challenge for the title after Arsenal’s late 3-2 victory against Bournemouth on Saturday.
History, however, was not on the visitors’ side, having failed to win at Anfield since 2016. United lost 4-0 in the same fixture last season.
For all of United’s progress under Ten Hag, this was the latest test of his team’s nerve on the big occasion, having already seen losses at Manchester City and Arsenal this season.
And seven days after the Dutch manager won his first trophy at United came this humiliating setback.
Gakpo put Liverpool ahead in the 43rd minute when collecting Andrew Robertson’s pass. He immediately charged into the box, sidestepped Raphael Varane and then swept a shot past David de Gea and into the bottom corner.
United’s players had been guilty of wasting chances of their own before that goal with Bruno Fernandes missing the target with a far post header and Marcus Rashford firing tamely at Alisson with only the goalkeeper to beat.
If United fans expected a response after the break, they were instead left stunned by Liverpool’s explosive start to the second half.
Nunez extended Liverpool’s lead when heading in Harvey Elliott’s cross after Luke Shaw failed to clear the ball.
It was 3-0 in the 50th after Salah’s clever footwork beat Lisandro Martinez and he then clipped a pass for Gakpo to lift over De Gea.
From there it went from bad to worse for Ten Hag as his team still tried to get back into the match.
Liverpool ruthlessly exploited United’s ragged defense, with Salah making it 4-0 in the 66th and Nunez scoring again in the 75th.
It was 6-0 when Salah scored in the 83rd and substitute Firmino stepped off the bench to score in the 88th.
Liverpool’s seven goals came from just eight shots on target.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.