VIDEO: Rooney and Mata have United ahead of Liverpool at halftime


Manchester United is looking for six wins in a row, and Liverpool’s shocking defending has let the visitors down again.

Wayne Rooney struck past an awkward-looking Brad Jones to give Manchester United the lead inside 15 minutes, and that’s where we stand at the halftime break.

Antonio Valencia expertly nutmegged Joe Allen to spring the attack, and his cutback found Rooney in gobs of space with both Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard caught napping in no-man’s land.

Rooney blasted the chance home to put the home side in front on 12 minutes, as goalkeeper Jones dove the wrong way. Jones is in the starting lineup to replace the benched Simon Mignolet, whom Brendan Rodgers said would “benefit from some time out of the spotlight.”

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Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana have been bright for Liverpool in the creative situations, but Manchester United keeper David de Gea has stuffed him twice from close range on chances he likely should have put away. On the other end, 19-year-old James Wilson and Robin van Persie started up front for the Red Devils, but neither has seen a sniff of the ball just yet.

United doubled their lead five minutes before the break when a cross by Ashley Young found the unmarked head of Juan Mata who poked home past a helpless Jones. On second look, it appeared that van Persie got a slight touch to redirect the cross, putting Mata in a very clear offsides position, but the linesman’s flag stayed down.

There were also five yellow cards shown in the first half for hard fouls – including four to Manchester United – but none were malicious in intent, mostly looking to peg back chances for the other side after mistakes by teammates.