Rooney nets winner for United

Football English Premier League

Rooney nets winner for United

 Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney pounced to score a 78th-minute winner as his side stunned eternal rivals Liverpool with a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory at a freezing Anfield on Sunday.

Presiding over his first game against United, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watched his team dominate, but Rooney punished their profligacy with his fifth goal in four games, a close range snapshot after Marouane Fellaini had hit the bar.

It was United's first shot on target, but it was enough to give visiting manager Louis van Gaal his fourth win over Liverpool in four games and a first away victory since the 2-1 success at Watford on November 21.

Victory took United to within two points of the Champions League places and allowed them to reclaim fifth place from West Ham United, leaving Liverpool six points back in ninth place, their top-four hopes fading.

Both teams had drawn 3-3 on their previous outings -- Liverpool at home to Arsenal, United at Newcastle United -- but there was to be no frenzied  attacking to warm the 43,865 shivering souls at Anfield.

Roberto Firmino was once again preferred to Christian Benteke as the nominal frontman.
He was involved in two early chances, first drilling narrowly wide after Jordan Henderson, freed by Lucas Leiva, had seen a header palmed away by the outrushing David de Gea and then releasing James Milner to slice wide with a fine, half-volleyed pass.

The Brazilian looked poised to put Liverpool ahead six minutes before half-time, but as he cocked his right foot to shoot, Anthony Martial nipped in to intervene.

A ragged half for the visitors ended with Ashley Young hobbling off after appearing to injure his groin, with youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson coming on.

Liverpool's dominance continued in the second half, De Gea saving with his feet after Emre Can had flummoxed Chris Smalling with a step-over.

Martial threatened in the 56th minute, fizzing a shot wide after Borthwick-Jackson's cross was deflected into his path, but Liverpool were soon back on top.

De Gea fielded a side-foot effort from Henderson and then plunged to his right to parry an effort from Can before springing up to claw away Firmino's cross from the rebound.

Van Gaal sent on Juan Mata, match-winner in United's 2-1 victory at Anfield last March, and Memphis Depay, but it was Rooney who turned it their way with his timely strike.

Arsenal go top

Arsenal regained top spot in the Premier League on goal difference from Leicester City after a fiercely-contested goalless draw at Stoke City.

The second half was far more exciting than the first with both teams creating chances in an end-to-end duel which saw both goalkeepers make some superb saves.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Aston Villa striker Rudy Gestede came off the bench to dent Leicester's Premier League title challenge as his second half equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for the bottom club.

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