Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Manchester United on 10 March was payback for the fans, manager Jurgen Klopp has said after his side produced a commanding display to crush their fiercest rivals in the Europa League. Klopp's team ran out comfortable winners in the first-leg of their last-16 clash at Anfield and would have inflicted a more embarrassing defeat on United but for a string of brilliant saves from David De Gea.
In a simmering atmosphere, the hosts took a stranglehold of the tie with a commanding performance that was, according to their German coach, like watching the dominant Liverpool sides of old. The spectacle, he said, was a reward for supporters who had endured inconsistency since Klopp took charge in October.
"The atmosphere tonight, not that I can forget, it was unbelievable," Klopp told reporters afterwards. "It was really great and I want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in the atmosphere it was really great, easy to enjoy from the first to the last second. That was Liverpool how I knew it before I came here and that was really, really great so thank you for this.
"It was absolutely deserved, it was a great performance from the first to the last second. It is only the first-leg we know this. Before the game we knew it was only the first-leg we needed to win it and we did it. So that is great. One week until the next game. We know it is not easy we are in a good position now and we want to go to the next round and for this have to play again like this at Manchester."
Five-time European champions Liverpool have hit a purple patch of good form in recent weeks with this victory coming on the back of three successive wins in the Premier League. Their season, however, has been marked by erratic displays with superb victories over Manchester City, home and away, and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge being offset by frustrating defeats by Crystal Palace, Watford and Newcastle United.
Liverpool took the lead after 20 minutes when Daniel Sturridge scored from the penalty spot following a foul by Memphis Depay on Nathaniel Clyne. They would have extended their advantage but for De Gea, who stood as a one-man barrier in the United goal, producing top-drawer saves to deny Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, on two occasions. The Spanish keeper, however, could do nothing to prevent Roberto Firmino doubling the lead in the 73rd minute with a close-range finish.