Liverpool 1-2 Man Utd
Ryan Giggs gave Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek another nightmare as Manchester United snatched victory at Anfield.
Giggs scored twice in the second half as Sir Alex Ferguson's champions kept up the pressure at the Premiership summit.
Harry Kewell's goal gave Liverpool late hope - but Dudek was again the villain of the piece after his errors also gifted United a win at Anfield last term.
Dudek might have done better on both goals, but Liverpool were also left cursing a dreadful miss by Emile Heskey in the dying seconds.
Gerard Houllier's side have now lost to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United at home, evidence that they will not mount a serious title challenge.
They suffered a blow before kick-off when Michael Owen was ruled out with an ankle injury that will also deprive England of his services for the friendly against Denmark at Old Trafford.
His cutting edge was missed in a first 45 minutes when Liverpool had the majority of possession but little serious threat to show for it.
58 mins: Ryan Giggs puts Manchester United in front
70 mins: Giggs doubles United's lead
75 mins: Harry Kewell puts Liverpool back in contention
United's first serious attack came after 32 minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy flicked a free-kick inches wide.
The Dutchman was then booked as it emerged he had deliberately handled - although United were angry that Liverpool's El-Hadji Diouf insisted referee Graham Poll produce the yellow card.
Kewell unleashed two long-range efforts, one over the top and another that produced a fine save from Tim Howard seconds after the interval.
After 51 minutes, Liverpool counterpart Dudek almost repeated the nightmare error that presented Diego Forlan with a goal at Anfield last year.
The Polish goalkeeper sent a clearance straight to Giggs and had to scramble desperately to retrieve the situation with a diving save.
But he was helpless when he was eventually beaten by Giggs seven minutes later.
Giggs' wicked left-foot cross evaded Van Nistelrooy, but also deceived the diving Dudek and flew into the far corner.
Liverpool boss Houllier then replaced the ineffective Smicer with Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
Diouf was cautioned for a foul on John O'Shea, and was then lucky to escape a red card for a similar offence two minutes later.
The fingers were pointing at Dudek again with 20 minutes left when Giggs' powerful shot somehow squirmed under his body.
Liverpool were thrown a lifeline with 15 minutes left when Pongolle pulled a cross back for Kewell to beat Howard.
Pongolle was rattling United, and it needed a desperate challenge from Rio Ferdinand to halt the pacy French youngster.
And as time ran out, Emile Heskey squandered Liverpool's best chance with only seconds left, swiping Danny Murphy's pass wide from eight yards.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Biscan, Hyypia, Traore,
Diouf (Le Tallec 70), Murphy, Gerrard,
Smicer (Sinama Pongolle 63), Heskey, Kewell.
Subs not used: Kirkland, Diao, Riise.
Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea,
Fortune (Fletcher 83), Phil Neville, Keane, Giggs,
van Nistelrooy, Forlan.
Subs not used: Carroll, Ronaldo, Butt, Djemba-Djemba.
Booked: Van Nistelrooy, Gary Neville.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).