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Gerrard spot-kick earns Liverpool 1-0 halftime lead over Manchester United

Mar 16, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

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Looking to put serious pressure on Chelsea on the top of the table, Liverpool are 45 minutes away from an enormous win at Old Trafford.

Manchester United defender Rafael handed the ball in the box in the 34th minute, giving Steven Gerrard an opportunity to put the Reds ahead from the penalty spot, and he stood true.

The chance was earned thanks to a steady dose of probing from Liverpool’s front trio of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, and Raheem Sterling.

On this particular occasion, Sturridge hit Suarez with a cross-pitch pass, and with the Uruguayan trying to work around Rafael, he caught the defender off balance and arms outstretched, and Suarez’s move clipped his hand.

Rafael was also lucky to remain on the pitch.  With the Brazilian already on a yellow from just two minutes earlier, the Liverpool players pleaded with Mark Clattenberg to issue a second card, but he refused.

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Gerrard was the man to pump the ball home from the spot, poking it right past a wrong-footed David de Gea in net.

Manchester United had a golden opportunity to pull back level just minutes before the halftime break, but Wayne Rooney‘s thunderbolt was expertly saved by a diving Simon Mignolet.

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