Manchester United secured a sixth consecutive Premier League victory by beating bitter rivals Liverpool 3-0 at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney netted a ninth goal in his last eight appearances on home turf to give United a 12th-minute lead, 25 seconds after Raheem Sterling passed up a fine opportunity to put Liverpool ahead.
Louis van Gaal’s men doubled their advantage in controversial circumstances after 40 minutes as Juan Mata stooped to score from Robin van Persie’s flick – replays clearly showing the Spaniard to be offside.
Liverpool created the clearer openings over the course of the contest but poor finishing from Sterling and Mario Balotelli – plus another brilliant display from United goalkeeper David de Gea – served to frustrate them before Van Persie completed the scoring with a little over 20 minutes left.
The result piles more misery on Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who saw his team crash out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek, while for United, it acts as a measure of revenge for the 3-0 defeat suffered in last season’s corresponding fixture.
Brad Jones played a first Premier League game in almost two years Liverpool as under-fire number one Simon Mignolet dropped to the bench, where Balotelli was named having overcome a groin injury.
The intrigue in the United line-up came at the other end of the pitch as youngster James Wilson was selected to partner Van Persie up front, with Rooney playing a supporting role in an attacking line-up.