Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of a Premier League match low on quality and goalmouth action, but potentially high on significance, as Manchester United secured a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield.
The England captain netted for the fourth match in a row for the first time since March 2012, with a record 176th career Premier League goal for United.
[STORY: Rooney snatches one-club goalscoring record]
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Rooney broke the deadlock from United's first shot on target in the 79th minute, drilling the rebound past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after Maroune Fellaini's header had hit the crossbar.
It is the seventh time Liverpool have conceded a goal from a corner in the Premier League this season, with four Liverpool defenders failing to react to the loose ball after the Belgian's header from Juan Mata's cross dropped to the England captain in space in the six-yard box.
It was another dispiriting afternoon in front of goal for Liverpool, who dominated possession but couldn't beat the inspirational United goalkeeper David de Gea.
The Spaniard, who before the match outlined his ambition to emulate Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar as a United legend, produced a magnificent double save to deny first Emre Can and then Roberto Firmino in the second half.
Liverpool, who remain in ninth place following the defeat, have now scored just 17 goals in 14 Premier League matches under manager Jurgen Klopp.
United, who won't win any goalscoring awards themselves with just 28 goals from their 22 Premier League matches this season, move up to fifth place in the table, just two points behind Tottenham in the fourth and final Champions League position.

Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal shakes hands with assistant manager Ryan Giggs as they celebrate at full time

Image credit: Reuters

KEY MOMENTS

27' – PENALTY SHOUT! Moreno spreads a wide ball to Milner, who tries to find Firmino in the area, but the Brazilian is beaten to the ball by Blind. Firmino looks in vain for a penalty.
30' – CHANCE! Henderson pulls the ball to the far post following a quick interchange in midfield - was that a shot or a cross to Can? Lovely build-up play between Henderson and Lallana on the edge of the area.
45' – CHANCE! Martial gets the ball down the left and runs at the Liverpool defence but Sakho is well across to check the run.
67' - DOUBLE SAVE! De Gea twice denies Liverpool, the first a clawing save from Can's long-range effort, then he is up quickly to swat away Firmino's follow-up.
79' - GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United. Rooney nets the follow-up, after Fellaini's header from Mata's cross hits the bar from Blind's short corner.

Liverpool's Emre Can and Roberto Firmino look dejected after Wayne Rooney (2nd R) scored the first goal for Manchester United

Image credit: Reuters

88' – CHANCE! Firmino, who maybe thought he was offside, fails to control a mishit Milner shot and de Gea is alert to nick the ball of the Brazilian toes.

KEY STATS

Liverpool have only taken eight points from their last eight Premier League games (W2, D2, L4).
Manchester United have won seven of the last nine league meetings between the sides, with the other two matches ending in victory for Liverpool.
Liverpool have the second worst shot-per-goal ratio in the Premier League, needing 10 shots for each goal they score. Only Aston Villa have a worse record.

TALKING POINT

Did the selection of Lucas scupper the chances of an entertaining match? When Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp selected Lucas in place of Jordon Ibe in his starting eleven, you knew the Liverpool gameplan immediately. The Brazilian was there to kill space in midfield and stop United gaining any fluency in the middle of the field. And so he did - Lucas and Marouane Fellaini 's head-to-head battle in midfield ensured the two sides cancelled each other out. It seemed destined to be yet another goalless draw for United, until Rooney popped up to complete United's smash-and-grab raid.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp with Lucas Leiva at the end of the match

Image credit: Reuters

MAN OF THE MATCH

David de Gea (Manchester United): The home side just couldn't beat De Gea, who made excellent stops to deny Firmino and Can and gave composure to the United backline. World-class goalkeepers win matches for their sides – and De Gea has done that time and time again for United over the previous two seasons.

PLAYER RATINGS

Liverpool: Mignolet 6, Clyne 6, Toure 7, Sakho 8, Moreno 7, Lucas 7, Henderson 6, Can 7, Milner 7, Lallana 7, Firmino 7. Subs: Caulker 6 , Ibe 6, Benteke 6.
Manchester United: De Gea 9, Young 6, Smalling 6, Blind 6, Darmian 7, Schneiderlin 7, Fellaini 7, Lingard 6, Herrera 6, Martial 6, Rooney 7. Subs: Borthwick-Jackson 7, Mata 7, Memphis 6.

Manchester United's David De Gea celebrates at full time with Juan Mata and teammates

Image credit: Reuters

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