Liverpool tops Manchester United in front of 101,254 fans

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Manchester's Alexis Sanchez and Liverpool's Virgil van Diijk go up for a ball in the first half during Saturday's International Champions Cup match at Michigan Stadium.

Ann Arbor — Still don’t think soccer can be a huge draw in this area?

All you had to do was be at Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over longtime rival Manchester United Saturday in front of 101,254 fans at The Big House.

“The atmosphere was outstanding,” said Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp. “Already when we arrived, it was real nice. The reception was real nice.

“It was fantastic.”

Given the right circumstances, maybe any circumstances, there are more than enough passionate soccer fans in metro Detroit.

They had plenty of reasons to show up Saturday to watch preseason soccer in the International Champions Cup, and they did.

You had two storied teams, Liverpool and Manchester United, out of the ultra-popular English Premier League.

Ideal weather conditions, a festive crowd and atmosphere, and entertaining soccer.

It all worked.

More: Liverpool, Manchester United 'amazed' by Big House turnout

Many of the top players on either team were missing Saturday, but the quality of play kept fans on their feet and roaring.

Still, Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho felt fans were shortchanged by the lack of quality players.

“Atmosphere was fantastic, two amazing goals,” said Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho, who felt fans deserved more than they got Saturday. “Deserve more quality, the good players and teams, a good Liverpool and Manchester United. But the World Cup (last month), then no respect for clubs or players, the players from the World Cup deserve holidays (time off).

“We can’t give the people the real quality football, which can attract passion in this country.”

Mourinho viewed this game exactly for what it was — a preseason exhibition game.

“We are not playing here to improve the team or the dynamic,” he said. "We are playing here to just survive and have some not very ugly results.

“This is not our team, this is not our squad. We start the game with almost half of the players, they aren't going to belong to our squad. On August 9, many of them are not going to be here. This is not our squad.

“What did this game give me? Nothing, nothing at all.”

Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge scored in the 66th minute to break a 1-1 tie, and Sheyi Ojo (penalty kick) and Xherdan Shaqiri (beautiful overhead kick) added insurance goals to send Liverpool to its second win in three games on this tour. It was Manchester United’s first loss in four preseason games.

“Better than I could have expected,” Klopp said of his team’s day.

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Andreas Pereira (Manchester United) traded first-half goals.

Mane gave Liverpool a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute, scoring on a penalty kick.

Liverpool was given the PK when its explosive forward, Mohamed Salah — arguably the best player on the field Saturday — was fouled by Demetri Mitchell on a potential scoring play in the box.

But Manchester United tied the game just four minutes later on a free kick by Pereira, who has starred on this tour while attempting to gain a roster spot.