Though the game meandered as a stalemate, United benefited from a penalty award with fifteen minutes remaining - only the Reds' second at Anfield in Sir Alex's Old Trafford reign. Valencia showed tremendous speed to nip between Johnson and Daniel Agger and reach a loose ball, and as the Ecuadorian bore down on Pepe Reina and weighed up his options, Johnson’s attempts to recover only culminated in Valencia being bundled to the ground.
Van Persie was among three players to have missed spot-kicks for the Reds already this term, and the pressure was further heaped on the Dutchman as he faced a four-minute wait to take his kick as Agger received treatment and was subsequently stretchered from the field.
When play restarted, however, van Persie beat Reina’s valiant effort and smashed his kick high into the Spaniard’s goal. Chicharito was introduced in place of Kagawa to retain United’s counter-attacking menace, but once again the hosts might have scored as Martin Kelly got between Evra and Evans to head Johnson’s cross narrowly wide of Lindegaard’s goal.
That was as close as Liverpool came to levelling matters, despite eight minutes of added time, and instead United could bask in the unfamiliar glory of winning at Anfield for the first time in half a decade.