Belfast Telegraph

We turned their game on its head, insists Manchester United boss

By Carl Markham

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal hailed one of the most important wins of his career after a 2-1 victory over 10-man Liverpool at Anfield opened up a five-point cushion in the race for Champions League football.

Juan Mata scored in each half, either side of Reds captain Steven Gerrard getting sent off just 43 seconds after coming on as a substitute at the interval and, although Daniel Sturridge pulled a goal back, United could still afford to miss an added-time Wayne Rooney penalty.

The visitors were the dominant force in the first half having got their tactics spot on and Van Gaal said they used Liverpool's own strengths - their intent to press and attack at speed - against them.

"The first half was very good because I knew in advance Liverpool would press us and they did and we played them off the pitch," said the Dutchman.

"We scored a fantastic goal and gave nothing away so it was a superb first half.

"In the second half everything changed because of the red card and we did not play like a team any more.

"Nevertheless we didn't give many chances away because I cannot remember (David) De Gea making a fantastic save."

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admitted his side's failure to get going, even before Gerrard's moment of madness, cost them.

"We were never in position. The second half, the players showed why we have been on the run with the character and we were still in it right to the end," he said. "They take great credit from that. The first half cost us more than the second.

"In the first half we weren't passing it anything like well enough, We didn't play well enough, you have to accept that."

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