|1||Van der Sar|
United’s quest to regain the Barclays Premier League title suffered a second successive setback as Dirk Kuyt’s hat-trick gave Liverpool a deserved victory at Anfield.
The Dutch striker converted a quickfire pair of close-range chances, firstly hoofing home from the goalline after impressive skill from Luis Suarez, then nodding in following Nani's errant attempt to head away a cross.
United’s Portuguese winger was then carried off amid ugly scenes at the end of the first period, following a shocking high challenge from Jamie Carragher. The veteran defender was only booked, however, and was quickly followed by Edwin van der Sar, Rafael and Martin Skrtel into referee Phil Dowd’s notebook.
Although United rallied in the second half, Kuyt completed his hat-trick when he tapped home another close-range finish, this time after van der Sar had spilled Suarez’s free-kick. The Reds' only tangible reward came in injury-time, when Chicharito clinically nodded home Ryan Giggs' right-wing cross.
Sir Alex Ferguson again opted to field Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in tandem upfront, flanked by wingers Giggs and Nani, with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in midfield.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic absent through injury and suspension respectively, Wes Brown returned to the starting line-up alongside Chris Smalling. Rafael also came in at the expense of John O'Shea, while Patrice Evra recovered from injury to take his spot on the left flank.
For the hosts, Steven Gerrard played despite pre-match suggestions that he would be ruled out by a groin injury. Club record signing Andy