Manchester United recorded their fourth consecutive victory over Liverpool for the first time since World War I on Sunday, with Louis van Gaal's men escaping Anfield with a 1-0 win. The only goal of the game came late on, with old Evertonian Wayne Rooney netting his first away at his old Merseyside rivals in over a decade. All things considered, it was a poor performance from United, but on this rare instance, that hardly spoils our enjoyment.
United saw the lion's share of possession in the game's opening few minutes, but failed to create any goalscoring chances. Van Gaal's side were about as incisive as a cricket bat, and before long Liverpool seized control. They were a little more effective at creating chances, and went close after just 11 minutes: a smart pass by Lucas Leiva sent Adam Lallana through, though he was denied by David de Gea before Roberto Firmino fired the rebound wide.
Within a minute the Brazilian turned provider for James Milner, with a delicious pass out to the right flank smashed over the crossbar from a tight angle. Liverpool had to wait until the half-hour mark before creating their best chance of the half: a delicious one-touch exchange starting and finishing with a driving Jordan Henderson run ended with the ball flashing just wide of the far post.
Halftime arrived with United having failed to create a single goalscoring opportunity. It was as if Van Gaal had set his side up to counter-attack, only forgetting to tell them to actually try and score. They were neither dominating possession nor hitting Liverpool on the break; instead, United's sole response to their string of first half scares were aimless long balls in the direction of Wayne Rooney. It was extremely poor fare.
There was no sign of improvement early in the second half, with Liverpool almost immediately creating another clear-cut chance. Emre Can left Chris Smalling looking silly en route into the penalty area, though his low drive was diverted behind by the feet of de Gea. It seemed only a matter of time.
However, United did then finally create a chance, just over 10 minutes after the restart. It was more through fortune than anything else, with a loose ball falling kindly for Anthony Martial on the edge of the area. He skipped past a couple of defenders and found himself through, though the tightness of the angle meant he could only lash his shot straight across the face of goal.
Despite United's brief rally, Liverpool remained in the ascendancy. Henderson scooped a long-range effort straight into the arms of de Gea, before the Spaniard was called into action twice in quick succession to deny Can and Firmino.
That only served to make it all the more amusing when United managed to break the deadlock in the scrappiest of fashions with just over 10 minutes left. A floated cross by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (who was reasonably impressive after replacing the injured Ashley Young) came back off the crossbar via the head of Fellaini, only for Rooney to pounce on the rebound and lash home. Liverpool rallied, but it wasn't enough; somehow, United escaped with all three points.