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Football Managers forced to justify tactics after boring Anfield draw

Liverpool 0-0 Man Utd by James Nalton at Anfield

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AN ANFIELD stalemate on Saturday led both managers to defend their tactics after a goalless draw was played out on a warm afternoon on Merseyside.

“We came for three points,” said Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. “But in the second half we felt it was difficult to do that with the dynamic the match had. 

“I was waiting for Jurgen [Klopp] to change. I was waiting for him to go more attacking but he kept the three strong midfield players all the time.”

Joel Matip and Emre Can had good chances for Liverpool, but the central defender was thwarted by an excellent save from David de Gea in the first half, and Can sent his close range shot from a Joe Gomez cross into the Kop in the second.

As Mourinho pointed out, Klopp made like-for-like changes rather than forcing the issue, but the Liverpool manager was pleased with the balance his side had.

“We protected our offensive situation perfectly against one of the best counterattacking teams in the world,” he said. “If you don’t protect [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, he runs from here back to Manchester with the ball — and [Romelu] Lukaku — we defended well.”

The Belgian striker had United’s best chance just before the break after some good play from Anthony Martial, but Simon Mignolet was able to get in the way of his shot. It was to be the visitors’ last attempt of the game, and their only effort on target.

The performance from the fans was one part of the occasion which lived up to the pre-match hype, and the wall of noise which engulfed Anfield, especially in the early stages, was fitting of this rivalry. But Mourinho defended the spectacle.

“It depends what for you is an entertaining game,” said the Portuguese. “One thing is an entertaining game for fans, another thing is an entertaining game for the people who read football in a different way. 

“For me, the second half was a game of chess, but my opponent didn’t open the door for me to win.”

Klopp refused to criticise the opposition’s “defensive approach,” and was pleased with his side’s performance and the chances they created.

The best of these should have arrived from the penalty spot when Ander Herrera fouled Philippe Coutinho just inside the area, but the claims were half-hearted, which might have influenced the referee’s decision not to point to the spot.

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