• Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on as sub
  • 16th red in Premier League meetings between sides
  • Mata scores two including stunning scissor kick
  • United move five points clear of Liverpool

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was sent off 38 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute as Manchester United retained their grip on a top-four place with a vital win at Anfield.

Gerrard was introduced for Adam Lallana at the start of the second half with United deservedly leading through Juan Mata's early goal - but was gone almost as quickly after following up a thunderous tackle on the goalscorer with a reckless reaction to a challenge with a clear stamp on Ander Herrera.

It was inexcusable behaviour from a player of Gerrard's experience, having just been handed the responsibility by manager Brendan Rodgers of getting an underperforming Liverpool side back into the game.

Mata emphasised the folly of Gerrard's red card when he added a second with a sensational volley just before the hour to confirm United's superiority in a game that confirmed the impression that manager Louis van Gaal is now getting the sort of performances and results he demands.

MOTD2 analysis

Alan Shearer: "United moved the ball quickly and they passed it well too - their one or two-touch football has clearly improved massively of late. But the most impressive part of their performance in the first 45 minutes at Anfield was their intensity when they did not have possession."

Read more: 'How Van Gaal got it right again'

Daniel Sturridge pulled a goal back to give Liverpool hope of an unlikely comeback but the visitors were never seriously threatened again and could even afford the luxury of Wayne Rooney seeing an injury-time penalty saved by Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.

United built on last Sunday's impressive 3-0 win against Tottenham to extend their lead to five points over Liverpool, who are a place behind in fifth.

Liverpool 1-2 Man United: Louis van Gaal pleased with 'marvellous' Juan Mata

And the magnitude of the win was emphasised by the sight of manager Van Gaal joining his players as they celebrated with their fans in the Anfield Road end at the final whistle.

The game ended in more acrimony after a challenge by Reds defender Martin Skrtel on United keeper David De Gea - but nothing could diminish United's joy at a fully deserved win against a home side who paid the price for a poor first-half performance and a moment of sheer recklessness from Gerrard.

The 34-year-old, who announced in January that he was leaving Anfield in the summer after joining the Reds aged nine, will now serve a three-game ban.

Steven Gerrard sent off

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lasted just 38 seconds before being sent off

The hosts have made a fast start their trademark at Anfield under Rodgers - but United turned the tables comprehensively and fully merited the lead given to then when Herrera slipped in Mata superbly for a composed finish in front of the Kop.

The visitors' tempo meant Liverpool were getting no joy in midfield or attack, where Sturridge cut an isolated figure and Raheem Sterling was pushed to the periphery on the right flank.

Sturridge did, however, set up Liverpool's best chance of the half when he played in Lallana with a clear sight of goal. The former Southampton man took aim before sending a side-footed finish wastefully wide.

Lallana was the player sacrificed for the brief introduction of Gerrard, who hinted at his approach with a thunderous challenge on Mata, followed seconds later with another tangle involving Herrera.

Liverpool 1-2 Man United: Reds can still make top four - Brendan Rodgers

For a player of such vast experience, Gerrard's reaction - appearing to stamp on his opponent on the ground - was only going to end one way, with a deserved red card.

Liverpool's fans were furious, especially when Phil Jones escaped with a yellow card for a wild lunge on Jordan Henderson - and their mood darkened further when United added a brilliant second after 58 minutes.

Angel Di Maria, on as a substitute for the limping Ashley Young, lifted the ball into the area for Mata to deposit a brilliant low finish past keeper Simon Mignolet with an acrobatic scissor kick.

Liverpool had actually responded well to Gerrard's dismissal and kept the game alive with more than 20 minutes left when Sturridge beat De Gea with a shot at his near post that the normally impeccable United keeper should have dealt with much better.

The final drama came with that missed Rooney penalty after Emre Can fouled Daley Blind, but fortunately for Rooney it was not to prove expensive.

Juan Mata

Midfielder Juan Mata opened the scoring for Manchester United after slotting in from close range

Daniel Sturridge scores for Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge scored at the near post for Liverpool

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney missed a late penalty for Manchester United

David De Gea and Martin Skrtel

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Liverpool's Martin Skrtel squared-up after a challenge by the defender

Pele

Brazil legend Pele was a guest of honour at Anfield

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (5)

Liverpool

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 23 Can
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 17 Sakho
  • 31 Sterling
  • 14 Henderson
  • 24 Allen Booked
  • 18 Moreno (Balotelli - 66' Booked )
  • 20 Lallana (Gerrard - 45' Dismissed )
  • 15 Sturridge
  • 10 Coutinho

Substitutes

  • 01 Jones
  • 02 Johnson
  • 04 K Touré
  • 08 Gerrard
  • 09 Lambert
  • 21 Lucas
  • 45 Balotelli

Manchester United

  • 01 de Gea
  • 25 A Valencia
  • 12 Smalling
  • 04 Jones Booked
  • 17 Blind (Rojo - 94' )
  • 16 Carrick
  • 08 Mata
  • 21 Herrera Booked (Falcao - 83' )
  • 31 Fellaini
  • 18 Young (Di María - 55' )
  • 10 Rooney

Substitutes

  • 02 Rafael
  • 05 Rojo
  • 07 Di María
  • 09 Falcao
  • 11 Januzaj
  • 32 Valdés
  • 44 Pereira
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Att: 44,405

Match Stats

Shots

7 6

On target

1 4

Corners

2 3

Fouls

14 17

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Liverpool 1, Manchester United 2.

90:00 +4:58 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Liverpool 1, Manchester United 2.

90:00 +3:50 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Marcos Rojo replaces Daley Blind.

90:00 +3:13

Penalty saved! Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.

90:00 +2:24

Penalty Manchester United. Daley Blind draws a foul in the penalty area.

90:00 +2:24

Penalty conceded by Emre Can (Liverpool) after a foul in the penalty area.

87:24

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

87:24

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

85:30

Falcao (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85:30

Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

84:35

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Antonio Valencia.

82:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Falcao replaces Ander Herrera.

81:06

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Marouane Fellaini.

78:48

Foul by Antonio Valencia (Manchester United).

78:48

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:10

Foul by Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

78:10

Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

76:46

Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

76:46

Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

75:36

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

75:36

Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:55

Attempt blocked. Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

74:06

Foul by Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

74:06

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

72:48

Juan Mata (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

72:48

Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

71:54

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

71:27

Delay in match Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) because of an injury.

70:58

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

70:58

Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:56

Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

69:56

Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

68:48 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 1, Manchester United 2. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right to the bottom right corner.

68:14

Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

68:14

Foul by Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool).

66:55 Booking

Booking Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

66:44

Phil Jones (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:44

Foul by Mario Balotelli (Liverpool).

65:05 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Mario Balotelli replaces Alberto Moreno.

64:36

Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

64:36

Foul by Emre Can (Liverpool).

59:35

Foul by Michael Carrick (Manchester United).

59:35

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:18 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 0, Manchester United 2. Juan Mata (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ángel Di María.

58:11

Attempt blocked. Ander Herrera (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Michael Carrick.

56:22

Hand ball by Ángel Di María (Manchester United).

55:19 Booking

Booking Phil Jones (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

55:15

Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).

55:15

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

54:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Ángel Di María replaces Ashley Young.

53:49

Attempt missed. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Mamadou Sakho.

49:54

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

49:54

Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

47:00

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

46:40 Booking

Booking Ander Herrera (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

46:34

Delay in match Ander Herrera (Manchester United) because of an injury.

45:38 Dismissal

Dismissal Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) is shown the red card for fighting.

45:33

Foul by Ander Herrera (Manchester United).

45:33

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00

Second Half begins Liverpool 0, Manchester United 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Steven Gerrard replaces Adam Lallana.

45:00 +2:15 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Liverpool 0, Manchester United 1.

45:00 +1:12

Attempt saved. Michael Carrick (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Marouane Fellaini.

44:20

Phil Jones (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

44:20

Foul by Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool).

42:43

Offside, Manchester United. Ander Herrera tries a through ball, but Juan Mata is caught offside.

37:45

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Raheem Sterling.

37:12

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:12

Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

36:45

Attempt blocked. Joe Allen (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

36:39

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

35:39

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

35:39

Joe Allen (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:35

Attempt missed. Adam Lallana (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

33:37

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

33:37

Emre Can (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:02

Juan Mata (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

31:02

Foul by Adam Lallana (Liverpool).

29:55

Attempt blocked. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ander Herrera.

26:04

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Joe Allen.

24:46

Chris Smalling (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

24:46

Foul by Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool).

22:35

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

21:30

Delay in match Adam Lallana (Liverpool) because of an injury.

20:53

Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).

20:53

Adam Lallana (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

20:28

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

20:28

Emre Can (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

18:36 Booking

Booking Joe Allen (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

18:33

Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

18:33

Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

16:51

Attempt missed. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.

15:30

Offside, Manchester United. Michael Carrick tries a through ball, but Wayne Rooney is caught offside.

14:27

Foul by Antonio Valencia (Manchester United).

14:27

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

13:02 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 0, Manchester United 1. Juan Mata (Manchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ander Herrera with a through ball.

11:54

Offside, Manchester United. Ander Herrera tries a through ball, but Wayne Rooney is caught offside.

11:27

Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).

11:27

Adam Lallana (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:32

Juan Mata (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:32

Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).

1:27

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Martin Skrtel.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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