A slow burning derby which ended at a thrilling pace sees United stay top of Premier League and Kenny Dalglish's side on the fringes of Champions League spots in fifth
With the exclusion of both Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney both managers adopted a conservative 4-5-1 formation and this cautiousness meant that both sets of players struggled somewhat to find the space and time to create.
One side-effect of this claustrophobic nature was the success of the attacking play of the full-backs. A run of this nature from Patrice Evra allowed the Frenchman to pass Martin Kelly and deliver a cross for Phil Jones. The summer signing from Blackburn - who lined up in an unfamiliar midfield position - couldn’t keep his far post header on target and it swung wide of Pepe Reina’s left post.
The tempo increased in the second half, the aggression was evident and controversy was just round the bend when a corner kick from Gerrard was met by the head of Dirk Kuyt. His effort could have been goal bound had it not hit the arm of Evans. Anfield rose to appeal for the penalty but the referee waved away their protests.
With the increased intensity the game came alive and that man Adam was relishing the situation. Another run from deep, similar to that in the first half, caused trouble for the visitors defence and it was up to Rio Ferdinand to halt it. A clip to the left heel of Adam was enough to bring down the Scotland international and set up a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.
Ferdinand was furious with the seemingly clear decision until replays illustrated that little, if any, contact was made. Nonetheless Gerrard strode forward, took the ball and made it clear it was he who was going to take the kick. His curling low shot was launched towards the wall and for some inexplicable reason, Ryan Giggs jumped out of the way and that was the path the ball took beyond De Gea.
Sir Alex Ferguson had now to play his hand and used all three substitutions in the following minutes; Wayne Rooney, Nani and Chicharito were all required to produce an equaliser.
Chicharito was quick in his input with only minutes after his introduction he brought Manchester United back into the game with a powerful header. A cross from the left was aimed for the middle of the area where Danny Welbeck lost Jamie Carragher to flick the ball onto the far post, where the Mexican waited to nod the away side back to parity and set up a scintillating finish.
Dirk Kuyt forced De Gea into a diving save from close range, and in the dying seconds Martin Skrtel lashed over, before Jordan Henderson headed onto the roof of the net as the Reds chased victory.
But the winner was not to arrive, and United were able to end their recent losing run at Anfield, and move a point clear at the top of the table.