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Sturridge leads Liverpool fightback but Manchester United hold on

Manchester United maintained their dominance at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. United looked set for a comfortable win until the introduction of Daniel Sturridge in the second half. By the end, United were defending desperately in order to secure the three points.

The difference between the two rivals is encapsulated in the strikers they have signed this season. The £24 million United paid for Robin Van Persie is already looking like the bargain of the century. A typical cool finish, his 17th Premier League goal of the season, gave United the lead against a Liverpool team that made countless errors in the first half.

Liverpool picked up the Chelsea misfit Sturridge for £12 million in the January sales, and he has started promisingly. A tap-in from a rebounding Steven Gerrard gave him a goal and Liverpool hope after Nemanja Vidic had put United two up early in the second half. Sturridge should have equalised a few minutes later, after Luis Suarez created the chance, but hit his shot high.

Van Persie has been the key player for United this season though, and his goals could deliver the title. "Robin van Persie is different class," his strike partner Danny Welbeck said. "He produces moments in the game others can't do and we are glad he is on our side."

The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believed there were grounds for optimism despite the defeat. "I was very proud of the team," he said. "In the first half we were a wee bit tentative at times in our passing, but in the second the fightback was brilliant by the players and I thought second half we maybe deserved something from the game. We are disappointed to lose but take heart from the fact we kept going and Daniel Sturridge coming on and getting another goal was terrific."

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