Van Gaal targets second place after Anfield win.

Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal is channelling his target for a second-placed finish after his team beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield and moved five points clear of Brendan Rodgers's side.

It was an entertaining clash in which United dominated most of the game, especially in the first half.

Juan Mata scored two goals before Daniel Sturridge fired home for the homeside.

Steven Gerrard was sent off 41 seconds after coming on in the second half, following his stamp on Ander Herrera.

Also, Wayne Rooney missed a penalty late on in the game but United eventually ran out 2-1 winners on the day, increasing pressure on third-placed Arsenal and Manchester City who sit in second.

"I'm very happy that we've won and that we've opened up a gap from the teams below us," Van Gaal told MUTV, as reported.

"We can still look up and finish second. It is a significant win because we're five points ahead of Liverpool now but, if we'd lost, we would have been a point behind them. The win is very important."

Mata, who was the Man of the Match winner was really impressive and the Old Trafford admitted the Spain international has been the Reds' best player in their wins over top-four rivals Liverpool and Tottenham.

"Mata was also very good last week [against Tottenham]," he said. "And I wasn't going to change my best player. When you play well, you shall always play. Mata has confirmed again today what he can do.”

"I liked the atmosphere, our fans and, of course, the start of the game. But the win is important not only for the fans, but for me too!" the Dutchman joked.

"I'm very pleased for the fans, we've beaten Liverpool twice [in the league] now, so I'm very happy. I'm most excited about beating Liverpool today, it's a very important moment."

Thinkfootballideas [@Thinkfballideas]

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