Steven Gerrard scored two penalties and missed a third as Liverpool eased to victory against a sorry Manchester United side at Old Trafford.
Premier League leading goal scorer Luis Suarez added a third late on to rub salt into United’s wounds, who once again looked a shadow of the side that won the title last season.
The home side were woeful throughout in what was Liverpool’s first victory at Old Trafford since a 4-1 win in the 2008-2009 season.
Brendan Rodgers’ side stated their intentions as early as the third minute, when a delightful through ball from the impressive Henderson sent Daniel Sturridge through on goal, but a rare mis-cue from the striker saw the ball fly harmlessly high and wide.
The first half was fast paced and full of hearty challenges, but United failed to muster any kind of attacking threat as Liverpool worked tirelessly and exerted their utter dominance on the game.
The first goal came from the spot after a sustained period of Liverpool pressure.
Daniel Sturridge floated a ball across the box to Suarez who took a touch round Rafael who handled in the area.
The defender was lucky to remain on the pitch after he was booked moments earlier for a poor tackle on Red’s skipper Gerrard.
However, Liverpool’s talisman was not effected and stepped up confidently dispatch the penalty.
Liverpool continued to dominate, but United did mount five minutes of pressure at the end of the half, with Wayne Rooney being denied by Simon Mignolet with what turned out to be United’s only shot on target all match.
David Moyes would have hoped that his half time team talk would have rejuvenated his players for the second half, but it did not go according to plan as Joe Allen won Liverpool’s second penalty within a minute of the restart after being bundled to the ground by Phil Jones.
Gerrard stepped up once more and converted from 12 yards, effectively killing the game and sending the travelling Kopites into ecstasy.
United did rally a little, again mounting some pressure but it was all too easy for the Liverpool defence, who were not troubled all game.
It was quickly becoming an afternoon to forget for Moyes, and when Daniel Sturridge went down under Vidic’s challenge inside the box, it got worse.
Referee Mark Clattenberg pointed straight to the spot for a third Liverpool penalty and issued Vidic with his second yellow of the game and gave the defender his marching orders.
This was the fourth time the United captain has been sent off in this fixture.
Gerrard had the rare chance to score a hat-trick of penalties, but it was not to be as his effort struck the base of the post.
Liverpool had a number of chances to increase their lead, the best falling to Suarez, who was only kept at bay by a fantastic save by De Gea.
He was not to be denied for long though, and in the 84th minute, he latched onto a ball from Sturridge to cooly wrap up the game for his side.
This was a crucial win for Liverpool, who answered many critics in beating their old rivals.
There is now a real belief that Brendan Rodgers could be the man to end the long wait for Liverpool to reach the summit of English football once more.
His side now sit in second, only four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand, and with Mourinho’s men still to visit Anfield.
For Manchester United however, the story is a lot more bleak.
They are now 14 points behind Liverpool with dreams of another title long gone, they are now outsiders to even finish in the top four as they lie in seventh place.
The complete contrast in between the two teams was compiled by two key players after the game.
Man-of-the-match Steven Gerrard said that the win really sends a message out to the other sides competing for the title that Liverpool are “genuine contenders”, while Wayne Rooney said that it was one of the lowest points in his career.
David Moyes was clearly frustrated with the officials after the game after refusing to comment on the penalty decisions, although he did concede that Liverpool were the better side.