Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag hopes his side’s dramatic FA Cup quarter-final win over arch-rivals Liverpool will prove to be the turning point of their season.

The Dutchman declared himself happy with his weekend after United snatched a 4-3 victory in time added on in extra time courtesy of Amad Diallo’s breakaway goal, having seen Tottenham and Aston Villa both drop points in the race for the top four in the Premier League.

Speculation about Ten Hag’s long-term position has increased since Sir Jim Ratcliffe bought a 27.7 per cent share of the club but the manager believes this victory could be pivotal.

“Every team needs a moment into a season and we have never had this moment,” he said.

“This could be the moment where the team can have the belief and energy that they can do amazing things.

“I think when you can beat Liverpool in the way we did you can beat any opponent – it is up to us to prove that point. Today we did.”

Ten Hag was asked whether the nature of this victory, achieved after they came from 2-1 and 3-2 down, was more significant than their Carabao Cup win last year.

He added: “It was a good win but I’ve had some more good wins, I can tell you. For me winning a trophy is more. Maybe it can be very important towards winning another trophy.

“I am pleased with the performance of my team, the first 35 minutes we showed again that the future of this team is very bright and there is huge potential and we have to get it out.

“We have to get to the consistency but from January onwards we are ready, we got results.

“After the first 35 minutes we had our drop, allowed Liverpool to be back in the game and we know they have a very good team but we showed resilience and determination to win this game.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he could not find fault with his side but admitted it was the first time he had seen them struggle physically as their gruelling quest for an unprecedented quadruple finally caught up with them.

“Obviously the day was on and above the edge, it was really tough for us with all the 130-whatever minutes,” he said.

“The second half was absolutely exceptional but we didn’t finish the game off and when you leave the door open at Old Trafford it is clear they will get chances and they could score the equaliser and Marcus (Rashford) had a big chance at the end of normal time.

“They could win it there and then it got really hard for us, that was the first time I really saw my team really struggling.

“The problem was we didn’t even know who to take off. In 90 minutes it would have been fine but then with extra time our options were really not (there).

“We say we have to bring the kids in at the right moment but it was not the right moment.”

Asked who he wanted to take off, Klopp added: “Macca (Alexis Mac Allister) definitely, Wataru (Endo) definitely, Darwin (Nunez) definitely. Lucho (Luis Diaz) we did.

“The boys play all the time and the way we conceded the last two goals you could see were not on top of our game anymore – we gave two balls away but absolutely no criticism of the boys.

“They gave absolutely everything, today it was not enough and that is what we have to accept.”

The Football Association has condemned the tragedy chanting heard during Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester United and Liverpool and vowed to liaise with police over the matter.

A significant number of fans in the Stretford End at Old Trafford were heard chanting ‘Murderers’, quickly followed by ‘Always the victims’ around the hour mark, with the singing audible to the live television audience.

The FA said in a statement: “We are aware of the reported tragedy chanting during today’s FA Cup fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool, and we will be liaising with and supporting Greater Manchester Police.

“We strongly condemn any offensive, abusive and discriminatory chants in football stadiums, and we are determined to stamp this behaviour out.

“It is entirely unacceptable and can have a lasting and damaging impact on people and communities within our game. It must stop, and we support any club and their fans who try to eradicate this from the terraces.”

Manchester United and Greater Manchester Police have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency.

Manchester United beat Liverpool 4-3 after extra time in a gripping FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at some other memorable United cup wins.

Liverpool 1 Man Utd 2, final, 1977

United prevented Liverpool, already First Division champions and playing the European Cup final four days later, from winning the treble. All the goals came in a five-minute burst early in the second half. Stuart Pearson’s opener was quickly cancelled out by Jimmy Case but Lou Macari’s shot rebounded in off Jimmy Greenhoff to settle it.

Chelsea 0 Man Utd 4, final, 1994

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side turned on the style in the second half at Wembley to win their first double with some swagger. Eric Cantona broke the deadlock with two penalties in quick succession and Mark Hughes added another shortly afterwards. Brian McClair wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time.

Man Utd 2 Liverpool 1, fourth round, 1999

Liverpool took an early lead through Michael Owen but United, establishing a trend which would manifest itself with even greater significance in Europe later that season, turned it around with two late goals. Dwight Yorke equalised in the 88th minute and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer snatched a thrilling winner moments later.

Arsenal 1 Man Utd 2, semi-final replay, 1999

In another dramatic encounter in United’s treble-winning season, Ryan Giggs settled what was to be the last-ever semi-final replay with a sensational solo effort. United had led through an early David Beckham goal at Villa Park but seemed to be hanging on after Dennis Bergkamp levelled and Roy Keane was sent off. Yet Bergkamp missed the chance to win it from the penalty spot and Giggs had the final word in extra time.

Man Utd 3 West Ham 1, fifth round, 2023

Erik Ten Hag’s United produced a stirring late fightback to reach last year’s quarter-finals. Said Benrahma’s powerful strike put the Hammers on course for victory but United drew level in the 77th minute when Nayef Aguerd headed into his own net. Then, in a frantic finish, Alejandro Garnacho curled in a 90th-minute shot and Fred followed up with another in stoppage time.

Super sub Amad Diallo sealed a scarcely-believable 4-3 extra-time triumph against bitter rivals Liverpool to send Manchester United into the FA Cup semi-finals and breathe new life into their season.

All eyes were on Old Trafford as these great rivals met in a highly-anticipated clash that lived up to the hype on Sunday, swinging from one way to the other before a box-office conclusion.

Scott McTominay put United into an early lead, but Liverpool looked set to run amok after Alexis Mac Allister and Mohamed Salah scored late in the first half to put Jurgen Klopp’s men in control.

Under pressure Erik ten Hag’s side offered little in response, but substitute Antony managed to level against the run of play in the 87th minute.

Marcus Rashford blew a gilt-edged opportunity to win the quarter-final with the final kick of regulation time, with the roller-coaster ride continuing in extra time.

Liverpool sub Harvey Elliott landed a 105th-minute body blow but, in front of United fan Tyson Fury, the hosts picked themselves off the canvas.

Rashford drew United level in the 112th minute and Diallo scored on the break in added time at the end of extra time, shaking Old Trafford to its foundations.

The 21-year-old was sent off after receiving a second booking for taking his shirt off during the ear-shattering celebrations on a day that seals the winger’s place in United folklore.

Erik ten Hag is relishing the challenge of overcoming Liverpool in Sunday’s crunch FA Cup quarter-final as Manchester United look to save their season.

All eyes will be on Old Trafford as Jurgen Klopp makes his penultimate visit as Reds boss against a side looking to keep their final route to silverware alive.

Liverpool have already won the Carabao Cup and would love to pile further misery on injury-hit United, who are looking to avoid their campaign heading into a tailspin.

A Wembley semi-final would prove a welcome shot in the arm for Ten Hag’s side before returning to their push to climb the Premier League and sneak Champions League qualification.

Asked if he trusts his players to save the season for him over the coming weeks, Ten Hag pointed to the collective and said: “I think we have to save the season.

“But we know we have to catch up in the Premier League but now we have an opportunity to win silverware. The only opportunity is the FA Cup, so we are only three wins away but big games and we have to play our best.

“Sunday is a test for us, but we like the test, we like the challenges and we can be, to a certain range, relaxed because we believe in ourselves. But on Sunday we have to prove (that).”

Ten Hag spoke with calmness and confidence at a time of scrutiny as ambitious new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos look at the best way to take United back to the top.

The Dutchman won the Carabao Cup, reached the FA Cup final and finished third in the Premier League in his first season in charge, but pressure has mounted as things have gone awry this term.

United face an uphill battle for Champions League qualification and exited Europe before Christmas, but setbacks and adversity could improve their resolve.

“So, of course, it’s about sticking together,” Ten Hag said. “You have to face it together and make sure we are always on one page together. You know around Manchester United there will always be noise.

“Don’t get distracted from it and know together where we are going. What is the project? But also what is the process?

“Then everyone knows why we are in the position that we are and how can we improve it? Then the attitude, always give your best. Every day deliver, then finally you will achieve your aims and your goals.”

Harry Maguire, Rasmus Hojlund and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are set to bolster United’s squad on Sunday after returning to training this week, so too reportedly is summer signing Mason Mount.

Liverpool were also looking at the England international before he left Chelsea for Old Trafford, where he has enjoyed a challenging start to life and has missed the last four months with a calf issue.

“I’m convinced he will be (a key player),” Ten Hag said. “He didn’t have the chance to prove this point. But he will be a very good player for Manchester United.

“It’s really unfortunate and disappointing for him but also for us when you have such a class player in the middle and you can’t play him.

“He has had three injuries as we all know, so he didn’t have any time to come into a rhythm. But I am sure that when he is fit and he will play and get into that rhythm, then he will contribute to a successful Manchester United I’m sure.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk believes Joe Gomez’s England recall is fully deserved as the team’s popular utility man continues to impress.

It was not that long ago that speculation was linking the defender with a move away as he dropped down the pecking order at Anfield.

However, this season he has taken over the mantle of the veteran James Milner, who left for Brighton in the summer, in terms of being a reliable performer in a number of positions.

His 40 appearances have come across the back four, with a couple as an emergency holding midfielder, as injuries piled up in February and that versatility is something which appeals to Gareth Southgate, who included him in his squad for the first time since 2020 for next week’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

“I’m very happy for him. To be honest, me and Ibou (Ibrahima Konate) have been saying for quite a while he definitely shouldn’t book any holidays in this international period as he will definitely be in it,” said Van Dijk.

“Still, it’s been such a long time for him. The work he has put in day in, day out – him and his family – not many people see but he has been outstanding the whole season and I’m delighted.

“Let him get his chance and then he will show he should stay in the squad.”

Gomez could be deployed in either full-back position or as Van Dijk’s partner for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

It is a credit to him that his performances have not dropped despite being shifted around the pitch and the fact he is still only 26 means his best years are still ahead of him.

Asked what had changed, Van Dijk added: “Playing more helps, of course, but it’s the confidence he plays with as well in any position across the back line and a couple of games as a holding midfielder.

“He’s doing great, he’s a fantastic player.”

Manager Jurgen Klopp trailed Gomez’s selection after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City, when he praised his performance and suggested it was a simple decision for Southgate.

“I don’t think my comments had a lot of influence. Wasn’t necessary really, Joey deserves it, absolutely,” said the Reds boss.

“The season he has played so far is absolutely exceptional. We would not be where we are without Joey. He’s played so many different positions. Really happy for him.

“I saw on his face he was very happy about it so it’s good news. Now, let’s play the (United) game, he can go there, and hopefully comes back healthy and we can play the rest of the season.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk takes inspiration from world’s best sportsmen and tries to live by NBA great LeBron James’ ‘strive for greatness’ mantra.

Last week the pair were pictured together in an advertising campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers – and Reds’ minority shareholder – star’s signature clothing collection for the club.

It is the second collaboration from the NBA’s all-time leading points scorer and while Van Dijk has yet to meet or even speak to LeBron, they have exchanged messages and the 32-year-old believes he can learn from someone seven years his senior.

Lebron sent him a video message in which he said: “I know you will lead this club on amazing things. Strive for greatness.”

“We haven’t spoken but we have had messages passed between us. I saw the billboard this week and it is amazing,” said the Netherlands captain.

“That phrase that he uses is perfect and it could be used for a lot of things. For me personally I definitely try and follow that because I want to achieve the most I can in life and get the maximum out of myself, the team and the position we are in. We are in a good place to do that this season – again.

“Funnily enough I look at all the top athletes at the highest level because I feel like they all have a big role, either as a big role model or for their team and community and there are so many things you can learn.

“The way they conduct themselves on the pitch or on court, also what they do in order to be great.

“There is LeBron, (Novak) Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tom Brady – I could name so many. I like to listen to these guys and learn with how they dealt with being at the top and dealing with difficult moments but also good moments.

“We always hear about the negative sides but you also have to deal with the positives.”

Van Dijk’s assertion that Liverpool are in a good place is down, in no small part, to the return of the imperious form which made him the world’s best defender a few years ago before an ACL injury.

He scored the goal which won them the Carabao Cup last month and is the cornerstone of a team which sits second in the table behind Arsenal only on goal difference.

Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United represents the third leg of a potential quadruple, with Atalanta awaiting in the last eight of the Europa League.

“Every season is always a challenge but this season we are in a special situation,” added the Dutchman.

“There are no guarantees but we feel like it is quite special with the way we have overcome things as a group, situations like the news of the manager (leaving at the end of the season).

“I feel very comfortable this season in every aspect of the game. Obviously confidence is a big driver but in general I think I have made big steps in possession. I think there are a lot of things that just clicked again.

“I feel really good and the responsibility I have has helped that but I feel that I have made steps again in possession, in the way I defend and I really enjoy that, I want to continue enjoying it and see what it leads to.”

After lifting his first trophy as Liverpool captain at Wembley, Van Dijk aimed a barb at his critics by saying ‘They thought I was finished’.

“I shouldn’t have said that. That was part of the emotion coming out of me because there were so many emotions going through my whole body that day,” he explained.

“Last season was disappointing. Not disappointing in a way that I was bad, I didn’t feel like that at all, I was just below my standards and the consistency wasn’t there that I have had and set for myself in every game.

“I fully understand the noise that came with it but I am a human being and not immune to any of that.

“Maybe in one way it was good to say because it gets it out of me – but I don’t like noise around me.”

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United have no intention of selling Marcus Rashford this summer.

After signing a new five-year deal after hitting 30 goals last season, the 26-year-old academy product has scored just seven times in a poor campaign for all connected to the club.

Rashford was this week again linked with a move to Paris St Germain, which could provide United with a huge windfall at a time of Premier League profit and sustainability considerations.

It would represent pure profit on that front as he is a homegrown player but Ten Hag says financial benefits are outweighed by the importance of the forward to the future.

“We didn’t re-sign him last season for (five) years with the intention to sell him, no,” Ten Hag said.

“He should be part of this project, so that is not a subject we talk about.”

Ten Hag was speaking ahead of Sunday’s crunch FA Cup quarter-final against rivals Liverpool – a match that may go some way to deciding whether the manager remains part of the now Ineos-led project.

Injury-hit United have endured a tough season and need to overcome Jurgen Klopp’s side at Old Trafford to keep their last remaining hope of silverware alive.

They sit sixth in the Premier League and face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League but Ten Hag hopes Sunday can act as a catalyst to transform their season.

“Actually, we never got to turn around so far,” Ten Hag said. “We had our opportunities, but we missed the opportunities (to turn things around).

“Sunday we have another good opportunity to get the momentum. I think the players, the team showed lately from January on we are in a very good series of games with a lot of wins, so they have to believe they can do it. Now we have to take the momentum.

“That is also what I feel when I train with them, during and around the games; that they have that belief, a good confidence, good spirit is there in the team. Go and play and get the turnaround.”

United are underdogs heading into the quarter-final but Ten Hag expects to be boosted by the return to fitness of Rasmus Hojlund, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The latter is set to return after two months out, with centre-back Maguire and striker Hojlund back after missing three and four games respectively.

“We had a good week,” Ten Hag said. “The players you mention returned on the pitch. Partly at the start of the week and today we had a session and they were all training.

“I think (they are available). We have tomorrow one session. Of course, we have to see how they recover from this but it looks good.”

Ten Hag also provided a positive update on Mason Mount – who has been kept out for four months with a calf issue – and says Tom Heaton is back with fellow goalkeeper Altay Bayindir out.

“Tom Heaton is back as well,” he said. “Also, it was very good Mason Mount trained also (the) whole week with us.

“First part of the week also partly but then also he had some full sessions with us, so it’s looking good.”

Lisandro Martinez, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia remain sidelined, while Jonny Evans has been dealing with calf and thigh problems recently.

United said “his game-time has been carefully managed”, which is why he has not been included in Northern Ireland’s squad for their March internationals.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the “pure quality” of Mohamed Salah as the forward prepares to face his favoured opposition Manchester United.

The German also praised the way his team coped without their leading scorer for the two months he was absent first at the Africa Cup of Nations and then with a hamstring problem sustained at the tournament.

Salah scored and had three assists in his first 90 minutes since New Year’s Day in the 6-1 Europa League demolition of Sparta Prague but Sunday’s FA Cup trip to Old Trafford will offer a better barometer of whether he is back to his sharpest.

The Egypt international will be relishing the game as he has scored more goals for Liverpool against United – a club-record 12 in 13 appearances – than any other team.

“Super good, you saw it last night. How many goals did he set up first half? He scored and was involved in all the others pretty much. Exceptional,” said Klopp.

“I would have loved to take him off but it was not possible because of Bobby’s situation (midfielder Bobby Clark had a minor problem) and he could manage that pretty well – even then he set up another goal which was offside.

“Mo is pure quality. Ask him what he likes most about Man Utd but the more we talk about it the less likely it will happen again. Exceptional guy, world-class player and how we dealt without him was unbelievable. Unbelievable.

“The boys did really well – but it is better to have him around and on the pitch than just in the dressing room.”

Salah and Darwin Nunez’s nine goals in his last 11 appearances should at least pose a significant threat at Old Trafford.

United are the only team in the last 55 matches to prevent Liverpool scoring, although since that goalless draw at Anfield in December they are on a run of 20 games with a goal.

Klopp said that day was the beginning of phase two of their season, even if ultra-defensive opponents frustrated them.

“I don’t know in the moment if we can play the same game again, it was a really good game,” he added.

“I would call this game the start of when we reached the next level for the season. Until then we were quite OK, we only lost one game, but it was still ‘Ah, sometimes really good, sometimes not so good’.

“It was difficult to judge us: we had so many things to overcome like red cards, being 1-0 down, so it was not clear how good we actually are.

“That game I first saw that was really us in the next gear. The result didn’t show that and I have no clue whether it will be the same game – I don’t expect it, obviously it’s a home game for them.

“But a lot of aspects in our game that day were really good and these aspects we try to bring on the pitch again.

“But the opponent had a full week to prepare, they might do a few things differently and then we have to adapt to that.”

Liverpool are chasing an unprecedented quadruple and Friday’s Europa League draw, a quarter-final versus Atalanta which could be followed by a semi-final against Benfica or Marseille, has made them even stronger favourites for that competition.

“Tricky but Atalanta we played there (in 2020) – not that I watched them since then 500 times, but still the same manager, pretty sure a similar structure so it means uncomfortable to play against, very well organised,” he said.

“It is a quarter-final – I didn’t expect any easy opponent. I have a lot of respect for what Atalanta is doing in the last years, very consistent.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk believes the history with arch-rivals Manchester United means Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final meeting carries additional expectations.

A week after playing out a Premier League classic in a top-of-the-table 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp’s side head to Old Trafford on the next leg of their quest for an unprecedented quadruple.

United are starting to gain some form – eight wins and just two defeats in the last 11 games – after an indifferent first half of the season and that makes the weekend’s quarter-final clash more intriguing.

Asked about the rivalry, Van Dijk said: “Intense. Not only the actual game but the whole build-up is a game on its own but I like to be involved in these type of games.

“We always have a difficult games against them and I expect a difficult one on Sunday as well.

“They are finding ways to win but I focus on what we have to do against them. It’s always difficult, it’s always intense.

“The history of the games with the two biggest clubs in England brings extra expectation and pressure but why not just go out there and enjoy it, play our game and hopefully go to the next round?”

Liverpool head into the game on the back of a 6-1 Europa League thrashing of Sparta Prague – a tie which finished 11-2 on aggregate – with their forwards all in form.

Mohamed Salah became the first player in the club’s history to score 20 goals in seven successive seasons, Darwin Nunez has 17 and six in as many games, and Cody Gakpo’s two against the Czech champions took him to 13 for the campaign. Luis Diaz, an unused substitute, is expected to start on Sunday looking to add to his tally of 13, six of which have come in the last 14 games.

United are the only team in the last 55 matches to prevent Liverpool from scoring after an ultra-defensive display in a goalless draw at Anfield in December.

Van Dijk is not sure they can adopt the same approach on Sunday, especially with 9,000 visiting fans inside Old Trafford.

“I think the game here was, I wouldn’t say one-sided but we had a lot of the ball,” he added.

“They created a couple of dangerous moments on the break and we have to be aware of that but if they would do it exactly the same when they play at home, I have no idea.

“We have to focus on our game and make it as difficult as possible, press them as high as we want and play our football and hopefully we can get through.”

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has not been surprised by the way Conor Bradley has handled the spotlight after breaking into the Liverpool side with a string of impressive performances.

Northern Ireland fans have long been aware of the 20-year-old’s exciting talent as Bradley has earned 13 caps since making his senior debut in May 2021, a figure that would be much higher had he not missed the bulk of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign through injury last year.

Since returning to fitness, Bradley has broken into Jurgen Klopp’s side and turned in a series of eye-catching displays, helping Liverpool to lift the Carabao Cup last month.


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A post shared by Conor Bradley (@conorbradley.03)

O’Neill welcomed back Bradley to international duty when he named his squad on Thursday for the upcoming friendlies against Romania and Scotland, and said Bradley has moved up a gear since recovering from a back injury.


“Conor was a big loss to us in the qualification campaign,” O’Neill told the PA news agency. “But physically he’s come back even stronger than he was prior to the injury.

“Athletically he’s demonstrated that in games – he’s played some extremely intense games, massive games for Liverpool and he’s excelled in those games. He’s not just held his own but in most of the those games people have come away talking about his level of performance.

“That’s something, going forward, we expect and hope he can bring to the international stage.”

Bradley spent last season on loan at League One Bolton, but has made the step up to Premier League and European football look seamless – something O’Neill said comes down to his character.

“The biggest thing for me is Conor’s mentality, to be able to play in those games at such a crucial stage of the season,” he said.

“He’s a very humble lad, he’s not one to get carried away. He takes it in his stride. He’s experienced already some of the ups and downs of football and it’s great to see him play at this level. He’s going to be a very important player for us going forward…

“If you know Conor and his background and his upbringing, how he’s handled it is exactly how I would expect. He’s not one that courts the spotlight, he’s not one I imagine does very much on social media.

“His focus is on his football and his performances. Away from the pitch he prefers a quiet life so he’s got all the traits you need to be a top player in the modern era.”

While Bradley is back in O’Neill’s squad, a number of senior players remain absent, with Jonny Evans sitting out this international window nursing a calf injury.

As expected, it is still too soon for either Stuart Dallas or Corry Evans, long-term absentees, although O’Neill expects to see both players during next week’s training camp in Manchester.

Dallas, 32, has been out since suffering a broken femur in April 2022, having been frustrated by a number of setbacks in his recovery, while Corry Evans, 33, suffered a serious knee injury in January 2023.

“Both lads are coming to see us in Manchester so we’ll probably get a clearer picture then,” O’Neill said when asked about possible return dates.

“Their focus is to get back playing, to get back fit, and then they’ve both got contract situations to deal with as well, so international football is not at the forefront of their minds at this time.”

What the papers say

Liverpool midfielder Luis Diaz has become a summer transfer target for Paris St Germain, according to the Daily Mail, as the club looks to replace French star Kylian Mbappe, who will leave for Real Madrid. Diaz joined Liverpool from Forto and has excelled at Anfield, scoring six goals with three assists in 27 Premier League games.

Chelsea are interested in Lille defender Leny Yoro as they look to replace 39-year-old Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva, the Standard says.

The Telegraph says Newcastle are hoping to accelerate sporting manager Dan Ashworth’s exit to Manchester United. Monaco’s Paul Mitchell is apparently at the top of the pile to replace him.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Marcus Rashford: The Manchester United striker is not expected to move to Paris St Germain this summer despite being touted as the replacement for Mbappe, according to Sky Sports.

Douglas Luiz: Aston Vila are confident they will keep the 25-year-old despite Arsenal setting their sights on the Brazilian midfielder, 90min reports.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah’s relentless drive to score goals will never end.

The Egypt international scored in the 6-1 Europa League demolition of Sparta Prague to bring up his 20th goal of the season, becoming the first player in the club’s history to reach that mark in seven successive campaigns.

“In seven years together with him, the one problem we never had was consistency,” said Klopp after the Egypt international’s first start since New Year’s Day after a hamstring injury.

“Mo is just delivering and delivering and delivering, his desire doesn’t stop, his quality is there and his desire to score doesn’t stop.

“He has improved in so many aspects since he started here. That’s how it is, he will not stop.

“I’m less surprised than maybe some others, I thought it had already happened to be honest, but he was injured for a while, otherwise he would have done it in January or February.

“But great, very good, and great to have him back.”

Salah also provided two assists for Bobby Clark and Cody Gakpo, who scored twice, with Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai also on target.

He completed his first 90 minutes in two months but Klopp admitted he had wanted to rest him earlier.

“It was not the plan he plays 90 minutes, the plan was to take him off when we brought on Mateusz (Musialowski) but Bobby Clark said (he felt something) and Mo is experienced enough that he recovers during the game.

“I told him not to defend any more – I never told a player that before.”

Liverpool progressed to the quarter-finals 11-2 on aggregate after an early blitz ruled out any remote hopes of a comeback from the Czech champions.

“The boys started the game incredibly well and 4-0 up in 14 minutes is really strange. From then on it became a strange game because how can you now stay greedy?” said Klopp.

Sparta boss Brian Priske accepted his side had been totally outclassed.

“Big respect to Liverpool how they played these two legs, the level from Sparta to Liverpool is massive. It is a completely different level,” he said.

“We never faced something like this. Liverpool is a Champions League team and they should be playing in the Champions League.”

Mohamed Salah warmed up for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United with a record-breaking goal in Liverpool’s 6-1 Europa League demolition of Sparta Prague at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were already virtually guaranteed a quarter-final place after their 5-1 first-leg victory but four goals in the opening 13-and-a-half minutes started the rout.

They were only the second team in major UEFA competition history to score four inside the first 14 minutes, after Chelsea against Jeunesse Hautcharage in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971-72, but Salah is one for setting standards not matching them.

The Egypt international, playing his first 90 minutes since New Year’s Day – due to the African Nations Cup and the hamstring injury he sustained playing in the tournament – scored the third goal for his 20th of the campaign.

It was the seventh-successive season he has reached the milestone and the first time any Liverpool player in their 132-year history had achieved such a feat.

If he needed any tuning up before the trip to Old Trafford then the Czech champions provided it as he also claimed two assists in that early blitz, with 19-year-old Bobby Clark benefiting to score his first goal for the club and Cody Gakpo turning home his cross from close range.

Darwin Nunez opened the scoring with a clinical strike from 16 yards – just seven minutes earlier – with the best of the quartet but that was forgotten in the blur of goals which followed as Sparta’s players were left chasing shadows and questioning their own abilities.

When the fourth goal went in, captain Ladislav Krejci, whose mistake had led to the second, called a crisis meeting in the middle of the pitch.

It all seemed a bit futile as even though their task at kick-off was an improbable one, their defending was so naive it bordered on the embarrassing.

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who added the fifth two minutes into the second half, crossed for Nunez to clip home a shot in the seventh minute for his 17th of the season and his sixth in as many games.

But instead of keeping it tight, the visitors continued to play out from the back and when Salah charged down Krejci, the rebound fell kindly for Clark to slot under goalkeeper Peter Vindahl.

The favour was returned when Clark muscled Jaroslav Zleny off the ball 25 yards out to tee up Salah to curl home his milestone goal, Gakpo then turning home the Egyptian’s cross from close range after more sloppy defending.

Nunez ballooned over Liverpool’s easiest chance from six yards from another Salah cross before Conor Bradley’s fierce drive was parried by the goalkeeper.

Veljko Birmancevic held off the backtracking Wataru Endo to poke a shot past Caoimhin Kelleher just before the break but it was a brief respite as, after Nunez, Endo and Joe Gomez were replaced during the interval, Szoboszlai’s near-post drive took a deflection on the way in.

When Vindahl’s punch at a corner only reached the edge of the area Harvey Elliott fired in a low shot which Gakpo touched in with a cheeky backheel.

The Netherlands international wasted a glorious chance for his hat-trick, blazing over with only the goalkeeper to beat and despite taking his tally to 13 for the season, he is unlikely to start at the weekend.

Klopp’s preferred front three of Salah, Nunez and Luis Diaz will have 48 goals between them and the team as a whole have 117 goals in 45 games.

They will fancy their chances against a United side who have kept just four clean sheets – three of which came against mid-tabled League One opponents Wigan and Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest and Everton – since they became the only club in the last 55 matches to prevent Liverpool scoring in a goalless draw in December.

Kevin De Bruyne will miss Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final against Newcastle on Saturday with a minor groin injury.

The news emerged after the City playmaker was not included in Belgium’s squad for their international friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and England later this month.

The PA news agency understands the problem is not considered too serious by City and the club are hopeful he will be fit for their crucial Premier League clash with Arsenal on March 31.

It is nevertheless another setback for De Bruyne after missing most of the first half of the campaign following hamstring surgery.

It is unclear when the 32-year-old suffered the injury. He looked frustrated to be substituted after 69 minutes of last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at title rivals Liverpool but there was no suggestion at the time he was injured.

It is City’s second fitness blow in the space of a few days after goalkeeper Ederson was ruled out for up to four weeks with a thigh injury.

The Brazilian was hurt in a collision with Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez – in which he conceded a penalty – at Anfield and was replaced by number two Stefan Ortega.

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