Liverpool face United in Europa League

Former Swiss soccer player Alexander Frei shows a ticket with Liverpool FC during the draw of the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League
Former Swiss soccer player Alexander Frei shows a ticket with Liverpool FC during the draw of the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League

ENGLAND’S two most decorated sides will clash in the Europa League after Liverpool and Manchester United were drawn against one another in the round of 16.

Liverpool will host the first leg at Anfield with Old Trafford staging the return after both sides came through their round-of-32 ties on Thursday night.

Jurgen Klopp’s men defeated Augsburg 1-0 on aggregate while United overturned a first-leg deficit to beat FC Midtjylland 6-3 on aggregate.

Liverpool, five-time European Cup winners, have also tasted a trio of successes in the Europa League - lifting the then UEFA Cup in 1973, 1976 and 2001.

They come up against bitter rivals United who have three European Cup victories to their name but have never triumphed in this tournament.

Louis van Gaal’s side slipped into the Europa League having failed to get out of their Champions League group stage and then went on to suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to FC Midtjylland in Demark.

But, with pressure mounting on the United boss, they turned the tie around as they recorded a 5-1 victory at Old Trafford - with young striker Marcus Rashford scoring a brace on his first-team debut.

Liverpool made heavy weather of their round of 32 tie with Augsburg, with a James Milner penalty early in Thursday’s second leg the only goal across both games and they have also lost at home and away in the Premier League to United this season.

With both famous clubs struggling to get into the top four this season, winning the Europa League could yet prove to be the easiest way to qualify for next season’s Champions League and that will no doubt add even more spice to an already mouth-watering affair.

The first legs of all of the ties takes place on March 10, with the return legs a week later.