Thanks to another Daniel Sturridge winning goal, Liverpool defeated Manchester United and picked up their third straight 1-0 win of the season to move to the top of the Premier League table.
On a day when the club marked the 100th anniversary of Bill Shankly's birth on Sept. 2, it was another birthday boy in Sturridge, turning 24 on Sunday, who made yet another telling impact early on, as he headed the only goal of the game after just three minutes.
Daniel Agger headed Steven Gerrard's corner toward the goal, with Sturridge stooping to nod in cleverly from close range.
United's own danger man, Robin van Persie, came close straight after with a drive deflected wide by Martin Skrtel. That became something of a theme for the first half, as United tried their luck from range only to find red shirts blocking the route to goal.
Philippe Coutinho came close several times as he cut in from the left, but David De Gea was largely impressive for United after conceding the early goal.
Liverpool dominated the first half, backed by a raucous Anfield crowd, and they deservedly led 1-0 at the break, which came after a flurry of yellow cards to both teams and a heated exchange involving van Persie and Gerrard.
In the second half, United started much stronger, and van Persie as well as Ashley Young both came close with shots early on, forcing the Reds' defenders into a series of blocks once more.
Indeed, the second 45 was largely one-way traffic, as United dominated possession and sought to find a way through to goal. However, they failed to really test Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal until the closing minutes of the game.
Liverpool's back line was superbly marshalled by the returning Skrtel, while full-backs Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson wisely picked this match to remember how to defend stoutly, with conviction and intelligence.
In front of them, Gerrard provided an immovable barrier, as he was at his thunderous best, making challenges and dispensing the ball with ease.
Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool's victory was down to their defensive quality and levels of concentration.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) September 1, 2013
Huge bouts of pressure almost told late on, though, as Javier Hernandez peppered the goal with efforts and slid in van Persie for United's best chance, but his first-time effort skewed wide of goal with two minutes left on the clock.
Liverpool held on to record a memorable win, while David Moyes suffered his first defeat as United boss—and continued his long winless spell at Anfield, with this match proving his 13th time unlucky.
Key Player Grades
Daniel Sturridge: B+
Liverpool striker Sturridge was the key difference, taking his one half-chance where no other player could. Great movement across the goal line got him the strike, his third in three league games and fifth in four matches in all competitions this season.
With the England man in this form, it's no surprise to see his club performing so well. He was quiet in the second half with Liverpool under pressure but really held the ball up well in the final 20 minutes.
Robin van Persie: C
Frustrated and edgy summed up his first-half performance, as the Dutchman saw little of the ball before getting involved in a fracas and receiving a yellow card.
He was more involved in a link-up capacity after the break, but he never looked as though he would score on the day and indeed missed his one threatening chance at the end.
Having struggled for form at times this year and last, Lucas looked like producing more of the same in the first half against United, as he was caught out of position several times and gave away free-kicks.
A massive second-half showing, however, saw him win numerous tackles, intercept the ball with regularity and basically perform in the defensive midfield role as it should be done.
A late foul on Tom Cleverley could have proven costly, but Lucas was still an important factor in this win for his team.
Liverpool head into the international break in fine form—three wins, three clean sheets, nine points. They will return with a game against Swansea City on September 16, when they could have several new faces in place after the transfer window shuts.
United play Crystal Palace two days earlier and will be expected to return to winning ways after tough games against Chelsea and Liverpool.
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