Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted his side’s failure to get going, even before Steven Gerrard’s moment of madness, cost them.
“We were never in position. The second half the players showed why we have been on the run with the character and the resilience and we were still in it right to the end.
“They take great credit from that. The first half cost us more than the second. “In that system you have to be able to press well and pass well and if you don’t do both elements of the game it becomes much more difficult for you.
“In the first half we weren’t passing it anything like well enough, We didn’t play well enough, you have to accept that.”
A win would have taken Liverpool above United into the top four for the first time since the opening day of the season but now they have to make up five points in the remaining eight matches.
“It is a big challenge but when I looked at the 10 games that were remaining, it was always going to be difficult to win all 10. We built in a loss and some draws,” he added.
“We hoped to win this game against a rival but it is still very much possible. There are five points between us and them.
“We need to recover and use this as a springboard as we did when we last played them (their last league defeat before this encounter).
“We are more than capable of winning the next game.”
There was some suggestion Liverpool could have had Martin Skrtel sent off in the final action of the match for a lunge at David De Gea but Rodgers rejected that.
“It looks like it when it is slowed down he has caught him with intent. I didn’t see it like that. He is trying to get the ball,” he added.
“You see his foot up. That is a symbol when a player is just trying to get his toe on the ball because if he does that and the keeper brings him down, it is probably a penalty.”