Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has issued an apology after being sent off against Manchester United within seconds of his arrival.
The 34-year-old entered the pitch as a half-time substitution for Adam Lallana, at a time when the visitors led through a 14th minute strike. However, the Anfield legend lasted just 38 seconds, after his stamp on Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera left referee Martin Atkinson with no choice but to show the former England international a straight red.
Mata doubled United’s lead just before the hour mark, ten minutes before Daniel Sturridge halved the deficit for the home side. But despite late pressure from Brendan Rodgers’ side, they were unable to find a way past David de Gea and instead were left nursing a first league defeat of the calendar year – much to the regret of their influential skipper.
“I just need to accept it,” Gerrard told Sky Sports of his dismissal. “The decision was right. I’ve let my team-mates and manager down today and even more importantly I’ve let all the supporters down so I take full responsibility for my actions. I tried to jump his tackle and I’ve seen his studs and I’ve reacted wrong. I take full responsibility for today’s result.”
This result leaves United well and truly in control of the battle for a top-four finish, as they have now opened up a five-point gap over their rivals. And Louis van Gaal’s team may extend this further when the Premier League resumes after the international break, as they take on struggling Aston Villa whilst Liverpool travel to in-form Arsenal.