Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 in Sunday's derby, dealing a big blow to Jurgen Klopp's hopes of finishing in the top four this season.
Liverpool were the better side for the bulk of the match, but the hosts lacked any form of efficiency in front of goal and failed to put away several fine chances. United barely threatened, but a single strike from Wayne Rooney 12 minutes before the final whistle handed the visitors all three points.
Per Goal UK, Rooney took a Premier League record from Arsenal's Thierry Henry in the process:
It was a clinical performance from Louis van Gaal's men, who likely didn't win many fans but took a big step toward finishing the season in the top four. They're now two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, while Liverpool are eight points outside the Champions League spots.
Liverpool took control of the ball early, winning the midfield battle with relative ease, as United refused to press up the field and attack the men in possession. Chances were few in the first minutes, but the Reds clearly looked the more positive side.
The hosts came close to opening the scoring after 11 minutes, when David De Gea was nearly beaten by an Adam Lallana header. The rebound fell to Roberto Firmino, but he failed to put his effort on goal.
Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo liked what he saw from the Reds:
Fellaini, Lucas and James Milner were involved in some handbags near the sideline that could have spun out of control, but official Mark Clattenburg was able to defuse the situation.
The action on the pitch was severely lacking, however. Liverpool remained the team in charge, and Jordan Henderson tried his luck from distance a few times, with no results. Firmino wanted a penalty after making contact with Daley Blind, but replays showed the former Hoffenheim man made the most of the challenge.
Henderson had another go after some lovely interplay around the box, but he couldn't put his shot on target.
The Reds increased the pressure as the first half wore on, and United's bid to keep a clean sheet wasn't helped when Ashley Young left the pitch injured and was replaced by youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
Heading into half-time, Liverpool were clearly on top, and Van Gaal had reasons to be worried. Per OptaJoe, his team looked toothless in attack:
BBC's Phil McNulty was not too impressed with the Reds, either:
Liverpool came out of the dressing room with renewed energy and again pressed forward, putting De Gea to work just minutes into the second half. Lallana sent Emre Can through on goal, but the Spanish stopper produced a fine reflex save.
Anthony Martial was the main danger man for the visitors, and the introduction of Borthwick-Jackson seemed to help, as the 20-year-old started seeing more of the ball.
The youngster rifled a shot across target before going down under pressure from Mamadou Sakho, but once again, Clattenburg didn't budge. Replays showed Sakho got a touch of the ball.
Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph was impressed with Martial's fighting spirit:
Can came agonisingly close to opening the score after 68 minutes, but De Gea showed why he's considered among the best goalkeepers in the world with a spectacular diving save to deny the young German.
Sakho was the next to have a good look on goal after a lovely cross from Milner, but the Frenchman's header flew over the bar.
Liverpool looked closer to grabbing a winner than the visitors, but with 12 minutes left to play, it was Rooney who broke the deadlock. Invisible for the bulk of the match, he found himself in the right place at the right time to turn home a rebound after Fellaini found the bar with a header.
Per Squawka Football, it brought an end to his goal drought at Anfield:
The veteran is scoring with consistency again, via WhoScored.com:
Liverpool pushed for an equaliser, but United did an excellent job slowing the pace of the match, barely giving away any chances. Firmino should have done better after a deflected shot from Milner fell into his path, but the Brazilian thought he was offside and sent a weak attempt at De Gea.
A late free-kick from Henderson amounted to nothing, as Chris Smalling cleared, and the Red Devils held on.
Manchester United kept pace with Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish, while Liverpool's bid to qualify for European football's top prize took another hit. Injuries have taken their toll on the Reds, and Klopp's side needs to get healthy fast, or it risks finishing the season with empty hands.
As shared by World Soccer Talk, Klopp was understandably frustrated his team lost a match in which it barely gave up any chances:
Van Gaal said the Red Devils can still win the Premier League title, per the Times' Oliver Kay:
Via Henry Winter of the Times, the Dutchman said the win shall provide his players and the fans with a "big boost" moving forward.