Liverpool maintained their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier Reserve League North with a hard-fought triumph over Manchester United at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Goals from Xabi Alonso (penalty) and Harry Kewell secured a 2-0 win for Gary Ablett's men as they produced a disciplined display to edge out their third placed rivals in front of a bumper crowd in Warrington.
The Reds went into the match boasting, what was arguably their strongest line-up of the season, with Alonso, Kewell and the fit-again Daniel Agger - who was playing his first match since September 15 - all involved in the starting XI.
As is so often the case between these two giants of the English game the opening stages were keenly contested and neither side made a chance of note until Liverpool were gifted the opportunity to take the lead on 13 minutes.
Krisztian Nemeth broke the offside trap to race clear down the left channel and when the Hungarian skilfully jinked inside he was brought crashing to the ground by United defender Gerard Pique.
The referee had no alternative but to point to the spot and Alonso stepped up and calmly stroked the ball down the middle to open the scoring.
It set the tone for the remainder of the half as spells of scrappy play were interspersed with the occasional half chance for the Reds.
On 19 minutes Kewell, who was up against the returning Gary Neville at full-back, found space down the left but despite a nice turn to take him to the byline, the Aussie delayed his cross and his cut back to the unmarked Nemeth was cleared.
The visitors tried to impose some sort of authority on the match but it just left them open to the counter attack as first Jay Spearing saw a 20-yard effort blocked before Nemeth let fly with a long range drive that flew just over the top of Tom Heaton's goal.
In truth, the Reds could easily have gone in at the interval two goals ahead but Nemeth somehow fired his close range effort over the bar after Emiliano Insua's clever ball in had found him with his back to goal in the six yard box.
It was the final chance of a bright first-half from the Reds and the watching Rafael Benitez will have been pleased with the display of Agger, who was a composed figure throughout his 45 minute appearance before being replaced by Martin Skrtel at half time.
The second period began with Liverpool still in the ascendancy and they were unlucky not to go further in front when Skrtel saw his header crash back off the crossbar after Mikel San Jose had nodded Alonso's free-kick back across goal.
United responded and on 56 minutes Dean Bouzanis was forced to make his first save of any real note when he acrobatically tipped Chris Eagles' audacious effort from the half-way line over the bar.
It was as close as the visitors came and their evening was compounded four minutes from time when Richard Eckersley was sent-off for his second bookable offence for a foul on Kewell.
And the Aussie rubbed salt in United's wounds in the last minute when he raced clear following a wonder stop from Bouzanis, to coolly slot the ball into the far corner of the net.