Yet without the league's top scorer Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in a very different starting XI to the one that outplayed Manchester City, Liverpool looked to have the Champions League return on their minds.
And at the heart of all of United's struggles was £89m man Paul Pogba.
Pogba was the catalyst with two goals in the space of 90 seconds, Sanchez set up all three goals, and Smalling came up with the victor.
Asked whether it was a case of United being that much better in the second half or tiredness from Anfield creeping into the City side, the Brazil global retorted: "I don't agree with you because if you see the statistics of the game, you analyse the game, we had the ball possession, we had the control".
"Well, I could tell you many, many reasons why we didn't win today", Danilo told CityTV.
Frenchman Pogba had been in the news heavily in the lead up to the game, after City boss Pep Guardiola claimed the player's agent Mino Raiola had offered the playmaker to him in January.
Yes, Manchester has been blue this season, but last night, the city was definitely red as the traditional heavyweights gave the upstarts a reality check and dented their aura of invincibility.
Charter bus en route to Augusta crashes, several injured
The bus driver, Steven Hoppenbrouwer, 61, of Gwinnett County, Georgia, was charged with DUI and a failure to maintain lane. Firefighters tell CBS News they are setting up a shelter and will transport passengers who did not sustain injuries there.
Outclassed United remained in contention after Raheem Sterling skied two golden chances over the bar with the goal at his mercy and Gundogan headed straight at keeper David de Gea when unmarked eight yards out.
However, they produced a memorable turnaround at the Etihad to win 3-2. Manchester United fans don't want robots, they want characters, but it's then demonstrating it on the pitch and doing it consistently.
"The first half was awful, we dropped off didn't play our game, and could have been out of sight", United captain Chris Smalling told Sky Sports. United were sharper, pressed their opponents higher up the field and played with an intent to attack and get back into the game.
"We have to focus on what we did wrong and we must improve, but we mustn't forget what we did all season".
The draw, though, allowed Spurs to move alongside them with a sixth straight league win as they defeated Stoke, whose relegation fears in 19th place were only heightened. He committed the foul that eventually led to the victor resulting from Sanchez's free kick.
Cardiff City has a game in hand on Fulham, and a two point lead.
But it's only his second season in charge and two trophies will go down as a good campaign.
- Koreas Hold Preparatory Talks Ahead of Landmark Summit
- Surgeon general encourages: Carry naloxone
- Orban nearly certain of fourth term as Hungary votes
- Backpage.com shut down, about damn time
- Antonio Conte predicts Chelsea FC v West Ham
- Crude oil prices dip slightly
- VSS Unity takes supersonic flight towards space tourism
- US Targets Allies of Putin in Latest Round of Sanctions
- Rahul Gandhi slams Shah for calling opposition parties animals
- What are thunderclap headaches? World's hottest chili pepper can cause stroke