A controversial penalty early in the game proved sufficient for Manchester United to progress into the 4th round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. If the return of Kenny Dalglish to the helm of Liverpool was meant to signify a change in fortunes for the Merseysiders then there is always the next game.
The Redsl found themselves a goal down after only two minutes when only the briefest of contact between Daniel Agger and Dimitar Berbatov saw the United forward go to ground and convince referee Howard Webb to award a penalty.
The visitor's were incensed with the decision but Ryan Giggs stepped up to fire past Pepe Reina.
Instead of capitalising on their early breakthrough United failed to make it count and the first half looked on course to be evenly matched.
But Liverpool's season has been anything but straightforward and just after the half-hour mark Steven Gerrard lunged two-footed at Michael Carrick and was shown red.
United looked to increase their lead after the break but with Liverpool struggling to make any headway the game gradually drifted tamely to its inevitable conclusion.
Jonny Evans headed against the post for the home side and Fabio Aurelio went closest for the visitor's.
For Liverpool the Europa League now looks their only hope for silverware this season although Dalglish would probably settle for simply a change of luck.
Referee: Howard Webb
Venue: Old Trafford Attendance: 74,727
Man Utd scorers: Giggs (pen) 2 Liverpool scorers:
MAN UTD 29 Kuszczak 03 Evra 05 Ferdinand 21 Rafael Da Silva 23 Evans (Smalling 84) 11 Giggs 16 Carrick 17 Nani 24 Fletcher (yellow card) (Anderson 62 (yellow card) 09 Berbatov 14 Hernandez (Owen 75)
Substitutes 34 Lindegaard, 12 Smalling, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 08 Anderson, 28 Gibson, 07 Owen, 26 Obertan
LIVERPOOL 25 Reina 05 Agger 06 Aurelio 34 Kelly 37 Skrtel 04 Raul Meireles (Shelvey 60) 08 Gerrard (red card) 17 Maxi (Babel 60) 21 Lucas 09 Torres (Ngog 77) 18 Kuyt
Substitutes 42 Gulacsi, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Wilson, 28 Poulsen, 33 Shelvey, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog