Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2 (Half-time 0-1)

Manchester United did the double over their arch rivals from up the M62, as a Juan Mata double put them in the driving seat, before Daniel Sturridge gave the home side renewed hope later on. The Reds were unable to claw their way back into the game though and it could have been even worse, as Simon Mignolet saved a late Wayne Rooney penalty, but it mattered not as United saw the game out to win 2-1 at Anfield. The result was slightly overshadowed by Steven Gerrard's brief second-half appearance before being sent off, in what will most likely be the Liverpool captain's final match against Louis van Gaal's side.

The result moved United 5 points clear of their rivals in the Premier League.

Liverpool had been on a wonderful run in the league, unbeaten in 2015 before yesterday's game, with their last loss being the 3-0 defeat inflicted on them by the same opposition back in December of last year. For once though they seemed lethargic in the first-half, either unable or unwilling to play their usual high pace pressure game at home, which handed the momentum to their Champions League place challengers. United took advantage and a neat pass from Ander Herrera found Mata bearing down on the Reds' defence down the right flank, and the Spaniard incisively fired home to put the Manchester side a goal ahead on 14 minutes.

Brendan Rodgers decided to introduce 34-year-old Gerrard for the second-half to put more bite into their midfield, but the plan backfired almost immediately. After the former England captain had gone in strongly on Mata, he then seemed to take offence himself to a hefty challenge from Herrera and looked to stamp on the Spaniard afterwards.

The referee decided that a straight red card was required and off trotted Gerrard, just 38 seconds after taking his place on the field. It wasn't the sort of final game against Liverpool's main adversaries that he had been looking for and he publically apologised to the dressing room and supporters afterwards for letting them down.

He is set to join LA Galaxy in America once the current season is over.

Whether it was the decisive moment or not in the match is hard to tell, but it certainly didn't help his side to get back into a match they were already trailing in. Mata for one certainly capitalised on the re-shuffle that going a man down invoked, as he scored a wonderful scissor-kick to extend his side's lead to 2-0 on 59 minutes.

Liverpool rallied and pulled a goal back from Sturridge with 21 minutes remaining, as he squeezed the ball past David de Gea at his near post. However, their comeback chances looked to be derailed as United were awarded a late penalty, only for Rooney to see his shot saved by Mignolet.

The home side could not force an equaliser in the dying seconds though and saw their unbeaten run ended.

Gerrard's sixth Premier League red card of an illustrious career will lead to a three-match ban, at a time when the Reds could have benefited from his ability and experience in the run-in. They still harbour hopes of making the top four and those highly prized Champions League places, but the defeat to United leaves them slightly adrift now and the away match at Arsenal that is next up, looks like a game where a draw may not be enough for them. Van Gaal's men by contrast seem to making a habit of picking up the points this season, with their triumph keeping them just a point behind third-placed Arsenal.