It was the most one-sided North West Derby since Liverpool went to Old Trafford three seasons ago and got a 4-1 win over the Red Devils. Today, Liverpool built a 3-0 lead on the back of a Dirk Kuyt hat-trick, eventually defeating Manchester United 3-1, handing their rivals a second consecutive loss. Liverpool jumps back into sixth place, but more important to the English Premier League table, United's lead at the top stays at three points.
The match's opening was relatively even, with two 4-4-2 formations unable to find an advantage over the other. But a lackluster start from Manchester United's midfield meant the Red Devils were unable to maintain any pressure on the Reds, something that led to Liverpool creating the better chances.
In the 34th minute, Luis Suárez gave an effort that went beyond set-ups and tactics, beating four Manchester United defenders to create the opening score. Taking a pass from Soritis Kyrgiakos in the left of the penalty area, Suárez made a move to the byline before cutting back, putting the ball between Rafael da Silva's legs, moving around Michael Carrick, beating Wes Brown before putting a pass beyond Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar, giving Dirk Kuty an open net from three yards out. Liverpool, just after the half hour mark, was up 1-0.
Five minutes later, Nani committed a demoralizing mistake, unintentionally assisting on Kuyt's second goal. from a Steven Gerrard cross from the right side, Nani headed back toward his own goal, the only explanation being a back pass for van der Sar. If that was Nani's intent, the execution was poor, with his ball looping over United's defense and onto the head of Kuyt, who finished from the same distance as his first goal, giving Liverpool a 2-0 lead.
Liverpool would carry that lead into the second half, eventually extending it thanks to Suárez and Kuyt. After Wes Brown committed what looked like it would be an innocuous foul, Luis Suárez put a shot on van der Sar from 26 yards out. The United `keeper gave up the rebound three yards from goal, with Dirk Kuyt there to lift the ball into goal. Taking his season goal total from four to seven, Kuyt gave Liverpool a 3-0 lead.
In injury time, Javier Hernández prevented Pepe Reina from keeping a clean sheet. A cross from the right from Ryan Giggs found Chicharito unmarked at the end of this six. The Mexican international headed down and to the left post, beating Reina to make it 3-1, the match's final goal.
With the win, Liverpool moves into sixth, their 42 points putting them two ahead of Bolton for what is currently England's final European football spot. Manchester United, with their third loss of the year, stays three points ahead of Arsenal, but after entering February undefeated, the Red Devils have lost to Wolves, Chelsea, and Liverpool. After their worst showing of the season, Alex Ferguson's team finds themselves within one match's worth of points of the Gunners.