Old Trafford side edge past Liverpool in tightly fought contest.
Manchester United moved 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League, for a few hours at least, after a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Goals from Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic gave United a 2-0 lead before Liverpool substitute Daniel Sturridge pulled one back for the visitors in this latest clash between England’s two most successful clubs.
Reigning champions Manchester City, currently in second place, will reduce the gap on local rivals United to seven points if they win away to Arsenal in a match kicking off at 4pm local time (1600GMT) on Sunday.
Van Persie gave United a 19th minute lead when he swept in Patrice Evra’s cross from eight yards out.
It was the Dutch striker’s 17th Premier League goal this term, and 21st in all competitions, since he arrived at Old Trafford in a £24 million ($39 million) pre-season move from top-flight rivals Arsenal.
United made it 2-0 nine minutes after half-time when full-back Evra’s header from van Persie’s free-kick deflected in off centre-half Vidic.
But three minutes later Sturridge, on at the start of the second half for Lucas Leiva, marked his Premier League debut for Liverpool with a goal when he followed up the rebound after David de Gea saved skipper Steven Gerrard’s shot from outside the box.
It was Sturridge’s second goal in as many games for Liverpool following his move from European champions champions Chelsea after he was on target in the 2-1 FA Cup win over Mansfield last weekend.
However, Sturridge failed to make the most of two more chances and United held on for a victory that gave them a league double over Liverpool, who remained in eighth place, this season.
De Gea – 6 (Had little to do in the first half and could perhaps have not parried into Sturridge’s path)
Rafael – 7 (Fairly assured throughout)
Evra – 7 (Calm and collected and was on hand to help with Man United’s second)
Ferdinand – 6 (Shaky at times)
Vidic – 7 (Scored the second and was strong at the back for much of the game)
Carrick – 6.5 (Kept the ball moving but did little else)
Young – 6 (Out of sorts first half before being subbed due to injury)
(Valencia) – 6 (Johnson caused the Ecuadorian all sorts of problems)
Cleverley – 7 (Full of running, tried to makes things happen)
Kagawa – 7 (Good close control, saw a shot well saved by Reina)
Welbeck – 8 (Man of the Match display from the youngster, always on hand to drive play forwards, even when dragged back into his own half)
Van Persie – 7.5 (Put away first goal with customary aplomb but faded in the second half)
Reina – 7 (Pulled off a couple of decent stops and wasn’t afraid to pull his neck on the line)
Johnson – 7 (Improved as the game went on)
Agger – 7 (Wonderful block from Welbeck in the first half)
Skrtel – 6 (Arguably not as assured as the Slovakian can be)
Wisdom – 7 (Didn’t do much wrong, produced a fine run before failing with an effort in the box)
Gerrard – 6 (Was subdued throughout)
Downing – 7 (Tried to get his side back into the game, continued to be showing signs of improvement)
Lucas – 5 (Poor, subbed at half-time)
Sturridge – 7.5 (Pulled a goal back, had a couple of other half-chances, made things happen)
Allen – 5 (Failed to make an impact, made mistakes throughout)
Sterling – 6 (Never really got out of first gear)
Suarez – 7 (Always full of running, worked well with Sturridge)
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