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Wayne Rooney was Manchester United’s hero in a 1-0 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League.
Merseyside-born Rooney’s powerful volley 12 minutes from the end of normal time was enough to secure United’s second successive win at the home of their bitter North-West rivals.
The victory reclaims fifth place in the top flight for Louis van Gaal’s men, who sit two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Either side of the interval, United threatened to deliver a sucker punch, through Anthony Martial and Rooney respectively, before the Frenchman drove an unsuccessful effort across the face of Simon Mignolet’s goal.
It was Liverpool, however, who had far more of the game’s chances, and Jurgen Klopp will be left to rue his side’s profligacy, with the Reds remaining in ninth place and eight points adrift of the Champions League spots.
During a typically feisty opening to the clash, a fabulous pass from Lucas led to opportunities for Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino, before the Brazilian presented James Milner with a chance, but the hosts were unavailable to finish satisfactorily.
As the Reds continued to be by far the more dangerous of the two sides, Jordan Henderson failed to make the most of a couple of very promising positions, while Firmino was shrugged off the ball by Anthony Martial when through on goal from an Emre Can feed.
Can went close early in the second period, skipping past Chris Smalling and seeing his drive kept out awkwardly by David de Gea.
The Spaniard denied the German again later on, after also saving a tame Henderson effort, and Mamadou Sakho headed a Milner cross high and wide of the target.
United made the most of Liverpool’s wastefulness through former Everton man Rooney, who smashed in a volley that Mignolet could only divert to the top of his net, seconds after Marouane Fellaini had headed a Juan Mata delivery off the crossbar.
The hosts pushed desperately for a leveller late on but the visitors held out without too much in the way of the drama, securing a victory that is always worth more than the three points on offer.
By David Maher