By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Reds controlled the game in the early moments, but they gave their supporters something to worry about after Jonjo Shelvey was shown a red card for a tackle on Jonny Evans in the first half.
Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to calm the nerves of Liverpool fans with a goal minutes into the second period, but Sir Alex Ferguson's men responded immediately via Rafael's left-footed strike.
Despite being a man down, the Reds stayed in the game and continued to create chances. However, a penalty decision by the referee allowed Robin van Persie to push United over the finish line ahead of their opponents.
Pepe Reina - 6.5
The Spaniard hardly had anything to do thanks to some organized defending from the two central defenders in front of him. Though United threatened occasionally from bursts by Shinji Kagawa, Reina almost always placed himself in the right positions to keep his goalmouth safe. Unfortunately for Reina, he could do little about the two goals conceded.
Martin Kelly - 6.5
Both Liverpool full-backs put in plenty of effort in supporting their attacking team-mates, but Kelly was much less effective in comparison to Glen Johnson. After a rampage from the back, the Englishman appeared clueless as to what he should do with the ball, often doing little more except to pump in a hopeful cross.
Martin Skrtel - 7.0
Red Devils striker Robin van Persie provided little to no threat to Reina's goal, and that was down to some excellent defence from Skrtel. The defender did well to stay close to van Persie, often squeezing the Dutchman out whenever he was in possession.
Daniel Agger (off 79') - 7.0
While Skrtel kept watch on van Persie, Agger made sure to nullify United's other threat. The Dane's strength caused Kagawa problems, with the former Borussia Dortmund man often out-muscled by Agger when in possession, forcing Kagawa to collect the ball from deep instead. Agger deserved better than to be stretchered out after injuring himself in an attempt to stop Antonio Valencia's run.
Glen Johnson - 7.0
Thanks to his strong build, Johnson's runs up the pitch were a source of constant trouble for Rafael. Although the United defender kept a close watch on Johnson, the Englishman's strength on the ball led meant Rafael could do little more but give way corners or throw-ins. However, Johnson's efforts are unlikely to be remembered as clearly as his sliding tackle on Valencia, gifting Ferguson's team a penalty in the second half.
Joe Allen - 6.5
Although Allen’s contributions to the game were not as glaring as midfield partner Steven Gerrard, the Welshman was a calming influence in the centre, recycling possession well and offering passing options to his team-mates.
Steven Gerrard - 7.0
The Liverpool captain steps up his game in almost every edition of this fixture, and he did not disappoint Reds supporters this time round either. Prior to his second half strike, he was incisive in possession, spraying long balls to find team-mates in dangerous spaces.
Jonjo Shelvey - 4.0
Despite his recent Europa League heroics, Shelvey showed that he was far from the finish product by getting himself sent off. The signs were there early in the first half, as the 20-year seemed to struggle to keep up with his more experienced midfield opponents, losing possession and lunging into tackles. He finally received his marching orders for a two-footed slide on Evans.
Fabio Borini (off 45’) - 6.5
The Italian was full of energy, timing his runs and finding space well for the most part of the first half. However, his industry hardly led to anything substantial, and manager Brendan Rodgers decided to take him off at half-time.
Raheem Sterling (off 65’) - 6.5
Not once did he look overawed by the occasion, young Sterling was a thorn in Patrice Evra’s side for his entire time on the game. The Englishman’s speed and energy meant he often found space down his flank, though he faded away slightly in the second half.
Luis Suarez - 7
As always, the Uruguayan was full of intelligent turns and movement. His energy and runs often dragged Red Devils defenders out of their positions, causing havoc in front of Lindegaard’s goal.
Suso (on 45’) - 7.0
When the young Spaniard was brought on in place of Borini, many were sceptical he impact the game. Suso proved his capabilities by playing a role in his team’s only goal of the game, wrong-footing Rafael to send in the cross that led to Gerrard’s strike.
Jordan Henderson (on 65’) - 5.0
Brought on in place of Sterling, Henderson was nowhere as impactful as his younger compatriot. He was hardly on the ball and failed to make much of an impression on the game.
Jamie Carragher (on 79’) - 6.0
Anders Lindegaard - 7.0
Although Lindegaard seemed to take awhile to settle into the game, his overall performance was one that deserves commendation. The busier of the two keepers displayed focus and great reflexes to deny Suarez twice in the match.
Rafael (off 88’) - 7.5
Typically criticized for the defensive aspect of his game, Rafael did considerably better in this fixture, rising to clear several crosses and corners. Although he may never be considered the best of right-backs, he certainly wrote his name in the hearts of United supporters after his sweet left foot curler drew the team level in the second half.
Rio Ferdinand - 6.0
As the more experienced of the two central defenders, Ferdinand’s performance is unlikely to please his manager. The Englishman was sluggish throughout the game, and he was guilty of several wayward clearances.
Jonny Evans - 6.0
Although Evans attempted to stay close to Suarez, the Liverpool striker often came out in top in their battles. The Red Devils defender was fond of dribbling the ball up-field, but he failed to return to his defensive task quickly enough when his team lost possession.
Patrice Evra - 4.5
The experienced full-back was expected to keep Sterling quiet, but Evra’s run of poor performances continued in this game. To compound matters, the Frenchman did little upon losing possession to Liverpool attackers. He allowed them time and space on his flank to send in dangerous crosses.
Michael Carrick - 5.0
Although Carrick attempted to control the midfield for United in the first half, he failed miserably, with most of his passes woefully inaccurate. He hardly saw time on the ball in the second period, with his team-mates choosing to go through the more dependable Paul Scholes.
Ryan Giggs - 6.0
While the Welshman’s presence was a calming influence on several occasions in the game, his age meant that he often struggled to keep up with play, be it defensively or offensively. It was surprising that Ferguson kept Giggs on for the full 90 minutes.
Antonio Valencia - 7.0
As one of the Red Devils most energetic players, Valencia hustled and bustled down his flank for the entire game. Unlike his colleague Nani, he was hardly ever guilty of wasting possession and did well to win the penalty that gave his team the lead.
Shinji Kagawa (off 81’) - 6.5
There were flashes of brilliance from the Japanese, but Kagawa appeared to struggle with the pace and power of the Reds. Often sandwiched and outmuscled off the ball, the midfielder must make more of an effort to win possession back after losing it.
Luis Nani (off 45’) - 5.0
It came as little shock to anyone that Nani was taken off at half time, as his best contribution was sending a free kick over the cross bar. The Portuguese did not fight hard for possession and was not effective as an offensive outlet either as most of his balls were inaccurate and easily cut out.
Robin van Persie - 6.0
Although he scored the winning goal for his team, Ferguson has every right to be disappointed with van Persie’s performance. The striker had minimal impact in the first half, often brushed off the ball easily by the Liverpool defence. Van Persie found himself in better positions in the second period, but lacked the hunger and aggression typically displayed by him.
Paul Scholes (on 45’) - 7.0
Needing someone to control the midfield, the Red Devils brought on the one man they knew they could count on to do so. Scholes’ impact was felt almost immediately, with his vision allowing him to send balls to team-mates in space.
Javier Hernandez (on 81’) - 6.0
Danny Welbeck (on 88’) - 6.0