“I was there!” – A fan’s eye view of a historic Liverpool victory against Manchester United

Let’s get one thing straight. This is a Manchester-based publication, which means they probably don’t want me to relish in Manchester United’s heaviest defeat since 1931. But how often are you going to see your team beat your fiercest rivals by a seven-goal margin? How often are you going to be there in person to see it happen?

I’m allowed to make the most of this, until Liverpool invariably fall to a defeat against relegation-strugglers Bournemouth on Saturday.

I’m lucky enough to have a season ticket at Anfield, starting last season. It’s safe to say that last year was certainly better than large parts of what I’ve experienced lately, which made me quietly cautious heading into Sunday’s massive clash.

I’m not from Merseyside, so I can’t truly understand the rivalry with Everton. With the rest of my family sporting the red of Manchester, this derby runs deep however. It’s a game that Liverpool simply can’t lose, otherwise I won’t hear the end of it for at least a month. And, going into the match, United fans were a lot louder and more confident than they’ve had any reason to be in the past few years.

They actually thought they were going to break their Anfield duck. For a large part of the Liverpool fanbase, scarred by a capitulation against Real Madrid, they were starting to think the same.

My spot in the Main Stand is right next to the away section, and the travelling support was in understandably fine voice. Taunts were shared between the two groups over the course of a tight first half. The longer it went on, the louder the United fans became, the more nervously the home fans sang their songs.

And then something beautiful happened. A trademark Andy Robertson pass had Fred on the floor, and Cody Gakpo cut inside to score against the team who had tried valiantly to sign him earlier in the season. The release from the Liverpool faithful, myself included, was one of relief more than anything, following an earlier disallowed goal for United’s Casemiro.

At the halftime whistle, Anfield rocked with a chorus of ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’. The players trudged back to the dressing rooms, still not knowing what was to come. The singing around me turned to agitated chatter. Liverpool hadn’t played particularly well. United have made themselves known as far superior in the second half of matches. 

At least another goal was needed to make me stop sweating.

A minute into the second half, we had our wish. Nunez headed in to send the crowd wild. Liverpool smelt blood. By the 50th minute, it was three, as Gakpo expertly lifted the ball over De Gea’s sprawling form. The fans around me barely knew how to react. We were just as shell shocked as the United players.

All of the disappointment of the season was transformed into unbridled joy. Every time an opposing player threw their arms up in disgust, the Liverpool taunts grew louder. By the time Salah and Nunez made it five, it no longer felt real. I was covering my mouth and just standing there, rather than jumping up and down. We’d transcended onto another plane. The away end was becoming alarmingly empty at a spectacularly fast pace. 

It wasn’t imaginable to think that any other goals could be celebrated with the same level of fervour. Yet Salah’s record-breaking goal as he became Liverpool’s all-time Premier League scorer and Firmino’s clincher in the week he announced his impending departure after an eight-year stay were greeted like last-minute winners.

Seven goals. 7-0. No one could ever have predicted it happening, which made it all the better. This wasn’t last season, when Liverpool were expected to dispatch a poor United side by a comfortable margin. This was a resurgent Red Devils, on the back of a League Cup triumph. And they were still put to the sword all the same.

No one left the stadium early. Everyone waited for the players to leave the pitch, applauding them for making memories that’ll last for generations. My dad and I took a selfie as the away fans somberly set themselves for a return journey up the East Lancs road. The Kop brayed for a series of Klopp’s trademark fist bumps, but he ignored their cries. Afterwards, he explained that they’d come once the job was done, once Champions League qualification was secured.

For the first time in a long while, it feels as if Liverpool could do it. The players have once again turned fans from doubters to believers. They could even beat the mighty Real Madrid in their own patch and complete a great European comeback.

Or they could lose to Bournemouth and go back to square one. But let us believe for one week at least.

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