Jose Mourinho thinks Liverpool fans had been expecting an easier night as Manchester United held them to a 0-0 draw.
Jurgen Klopp’s men came into the game on the back of four straight wins in the Premier League, but bumped into a stubborn United at Anfield.
Goalkeeper David de Gea made two fine second-half saves from Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho to deny Liverpool, but United controlled large parts of the game and rarely looked troubled.
Mourinho set his team up to frustrate the hosts, who failed to hit the heights of their previous performances this season where they beat Chelsea and drew with Tottenham.
“It was a very difficult game for us and them,” said Mourinho. “But it was more difficult for them than us.
“We kept control of the game for long periods. We started really well. We were in complete control of the first half. David made two great saves in the second half, but they were isolated from the context.
“But we had the game completely under control not only from a tactical point of view, but also emotionally. We could influence the atmosphere in the stadium.
“The crowd was always showing their disappointment because I think they were waiting for an easy match for them and it wasn’t.”
United had just 35% possession in the game, the lowest total in a Premier League match for the Red Devils since Opta began recording this data in 2003-04. However, without the ball, Mourinho’s men were organised and strong in the tackle, winning 60% of their duels.
Mourinho was delighted to see his team put his game plan into action. “That was the game we planned,” Mourinho added.
“We don’t want to control the game by having the ball all of the time. We know they want to press our first phase of the passing between Bailly and Smalling to Felliani and Herrera. We knew they would do this with the two No 8s they play.
“We knew their transition when they lose the ball is really strong and high, so we adapted to the situation. We knew it would be very difficult for them to score a goal. We tried to score the goal to win the match. We tried to start really strong in both halves, but they are a good team.
“They are not the next wonder of the world that you [the media] like to say they are, but they are a very good team.”