Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho revelled in proving his doubters wrong after frustrating Liverpool’s attacking potency during an attritional stalemate at Anfield.
Liverpool were unable to break free from the shackles of a carefully crafted Mourinho game-plan, although United were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea, who pulled off two impressive saves to keep the scores level.
This was only the second goalless draw between the two sides in their last 49 meetings and kept United in seventh place, five points adrift of leaders Manchester City, while Liverpool remain firmly ensconced in the top four.
“People expected us to come here and be really in trouble, which we were not,” said Mourinho. “The team was always comfortable.
“This is a point that stopped them winning three. Other candidates for the title have easier fixtures at the moment and it is important to keep close. Our opportunity to get five wins in a row will come.”
Mourinho was also happy to shrug off the notion of negativity after United recorded just 35 per cent possession – their lowest total in a Premier League match since 2003-04 when such data began to be collected.
“We adapt to the situation,” added Mourinho. “They are a good team. They are not the last wonder of the world like people say they are, but they are a very good team so we needed to adapt.”
Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, accused his side of lacking courage as they missed the chance to win a fifth successive Premier League clash.
“I am not happy with the game,” said Klopp. “It was hectic. We didn’t play as well as we could have, which was our fault. With their kind of defending, we weren’t brave any more.
“Our performance was not how it should be. It’s a first clean sheet of the season, so yippee.”
United made the more enterprising start and nullified Liverpool’s penchant for a quick-fire opening by stifling the home side’s midfield and preventing any form of supply to the final third.
An extremely tame Roberto Firmino header, easily clutched by De Gea, was their sole attacking dalliance as United’s disciplined resilience continued.
For all their rigid game management, it was United who wasted a glorious opportunity to open the scoring 10 minutes after the restart as Zlatan Ibrahimovic horribly miscued a header from a pinpoint Paul Pogba cross.
Finally Liverpool threatened and De Gea was forced into a superb low, one-handed save to deny Emre Can, while the Spaniard clawed away a 25-yard curling shot from Philippe Coutinho.