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Coutinho deflates United as Liverpool march on

United 1-1 Liverpool (agg: 1-3)
Anthony Martial's penalty had Liverpool worried but Philippe Coutinho's wonder goal on the stroke of half-time left the hosts with too much to do.

2015/16 highlights: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool
  • Majestic Philippe Coutinho goal on cusp of half-time halts United fightback
  • Red Devils initially cut deficit through Anthony Martial's 32nd-minute penalty
  • Opportunities at both ends but United deflated by equaliser
  • Liverpool's 2-0 first-leg advantage proves decisive
  • Quarter-final draw streamed live on UEFA.com from 13.00CET on Friday

Liverpool overcame the challenge of old rivals Manchester United to reach their first European quarter-final for six years with the help of a brilliant goal by Philippe Coutinho.

Although United halved the 2-0 round of 16 first-leg deficit through Anthony Martial's spot kick, Liverpool deflated their hosts with Coutinho's equalising goal on the stroke of half-time. It was a wonderful solo effort as the Brazilian left Guillermo Varela in his wake on a diagonal dash from the left side of the box before beating David de Gea with a lovely dinked finish.

From United it was a much improved display but there was realistically no way back after Coutinho's equaliser and Liverpool ultimately held on comfortably for a 1-1 draw and 3-1 overall victory in this all-English UEFA Europa League showpiece.

Watch highlights of the first leg at Anfield

In an exciting first half, United began at a good tempo and created several good chances, the first in the 19th minute when Marcos Rojo's cross reached the unmarked Jesse Lingard who failed to beat Simon Mignolet with his header. From the ensuing corner Juan Mata scuffed a close-range shot wide and United's purposeful start got its reward after 32 minutes with Martial's penalty. The Frenchman won the kick when upended by Nathaniel Clyne and he picked himself up to beat Mignolet.

The problem for United was containing Liverpool's attacking talents and even at 0-0 De Gea had to reprise his first-leg heroics with a brilliant low stop from Coutinho. Liverpool came again, though. Daniel Sturridge rattled the crossbar with an angled free-kick, then Henderson scooped over the bar after breaking on to a give and go with Coutinho. Coutinho duly took it on himself to level matters and effectively book Liverpool's last-eight place.

Reaction from United defender Danny Blind

There were further opportunities for United in the second period – Marouane Fellaini missed with both a header and close-range shot – but the belief was gone and the home crowd cowed. The only consolation for the hosts was that De Gea, with yet another save, spared them defeat on the night with another fine stop from Coutinho.

Liverpool in their stride
With more European Cups than United, Liverpool fans like to remind United that they've "won it five times" and they have the European bragging rights once again having become the first English team to beat United in continental club competition. The quarter-finals now beckon and Liverpool should progress in buoyant mood, unbeaten now in 10 matches in the competition.

United raised the tempo but it was not enough
United raised the tempo but it was not enough©AFP/Getty Images

Tempo matters
There have been many words written about the pace of Manchester United's football this season but on a night when they needed to go for it, United raised the tempo to impressive effect in the first half. There were times during those opening 45 minutes when Liverpool looked rattled. The speed of United's football lifted the home fans too, but unfortunately for Louis van Gaal's men, it was not enough.

120 key seconds
Two minutes before half-time, United so nearly had a second goal when Fellaini put in a low cross that Rojo stabbed wide. It was a golden chance and a second goal then would have had Old Trafford bouncing. Instead, inside 120 seconds, the mood was turned on its head by that Coutinho goal and the belief that had built up inside Old Trafford vanished.