By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Paul Scholes has hailed the performance of Philippe Coutinho after Liverpool’s attackers ran amok against Manchester United in their Europa League showdown on Thursday night.

Coutinho was the architect of a terrific attacking display by the home side as goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana gave the Merseysiders a 2-0 win to make them strong favourites to finish the job in the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday.

Only a series of outstanding David de Gea saves prevented a rout as Coutinho, Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Lallana brutally exposed the shortcomings of Louis van Gaal’s team.

Ex-Manchester United star Scholes delivered a no-holds-barred assessment of his old club’s performance after the match but also paid tribute to the excellence of the key Liverpool players.

“I though Coutinho was brilliant tonight, sensational” Scholes told BT Sport afterwards. “Firmino and Sturridge, they’ve got goals in them. Where is Man United’s top-class striker?”

Coutinho, who is rated in the £40million bracket, returned to the team after being rested for Liverpool’s previous two matches, a 3-0 win over Manchester City and a 2-1 triumph at Crystal Palace.

In other Liverpool news, Aston Villa are on the trail of striker Jerome Sinclair as they target a summer bid.