Police have removed a large banner which read 'murderers', reportedly hung by Manchester United fans to taunt their Liverpool rivals ahead of their Europa League clash at Old Trafford this evening.
Tensions are high between the two sets of fans after a string of incidents during the first leg at Anfield last week, which Liverpool won 2-0 thanks to goals from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino.
A small group of Manchester United fans were heard aiming chants about the Hillsborough disaster at the Liverpool home crowd, although UEFA opted against taking any action against the Red Devils over the incident.
Now fuel has been added to the fire by a banner over the M602 motorway in Salford, aimed at travelling Liverpool fans making their way to Old Trafford.
It also bore the date of the disaster, on which 96 fans lost their lives during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final clash against Nottingham Forest in 1989.
Police have confirmed they were alerted to the inflammatory banner, which has now been removed.
Tensions are likely to be high at Old Trafford tonight ahead of the match. Greater Manchester Police Superintendent Jim Liggett, the match commander, said: “As match commander for the forthcoming Manchester United v Liverpool fixture this Thursday, I would like to welcome both sets of fans attending the game.
“The aim of the police is to ensure that everybody enjoys the match and the day passes off safely with recent fixtures at Old Trafford between the two sides passing without incident which we hope will continue on Thursday.
“As always, the TV cameras and media will be focussed on one of the biggest club fixtures in the world and I hope that supporters from both sides act in a responsible manner and enjoy the game, no matter what the result.”
Both Manchester United and Liverpool's chances of qualifying for the Champions League via the Premier League look slim, meaning the Europa League is their best shot. Liverpool are certainly favourites in that respect thanks to their commanding lead from the first leg.