Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was sent off just 38 seconds after coming on as a second-half substitute as his team lost 2-1 to Manchester United in the English Premier League.

Elsewhere, Chelsea went six points clear at the top of the table with a hard-fought 3-2 win at Hull City.

Juan Mata had opened the scoring early in the first half for Manchester United and added a sublime second after Gerrard’s dismissal at Anfield. 

EPL Top-4

 

P

 Pts

Chelsea

29 

  67

Man City 

30

  61

Arsenal

30

  60

Man Utd

30

  59

But even a Daniel Sturridge strike for the home side and a missed penalty from Wayne Rooney could not prevent United from opening up a five-point gap over Liverpool in the fourth Champions League spot.

Gerrard's introduction

After a dull first-half performance from Liverpool, the home fans roared a welcome to former England captain Gerrard as he came on for the start of the second period.

He immediately took control, spraying passes and making a robust challenge on Mata as he tried to influence his final game against Liverpool’s fierce rivals, following a 17-year Premier League career with his boyhood club.

But when Ander Herrera almost caught him with a late lunge, Gerrard retaliated with a stamp and was shown a straight red by referee Martin Atkinson, just 38 seconds after coming on.

"I need to accept it, the decision was right," the 34-year-old told Sky Sports News.

"I've let down my team-mates and the fans. I take full responsibility. I don't know what caused it. Probably just a reaction to the initial tackle.

"I shouldn't say more about it really. I've just come out here to apologise to the dressing room and supporters."

Gerrard had only returned from a five-week injury layoff in the previous game against Swansea City, and is now likely to be banned for matches against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, and Arsenal and Newcastle in the league.

With the win, United stayed fourth with 59 points, just one point behind third-placed Arsenal.

Chelsea stay top

On the east coast, Eden Hazard scored for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea after 80 seconds against struggling Hull, and Diego Costa made it 2-0 seven minutes later.

Costa is now the joint top-scorer in the league this season after scoring his 19th goal. [Getty Images]

But Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamedy hit back on 26 minutes and Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois played a backpass straight to Abel Hernandez two minutes later, the Uruguayan sliding in to make it 2-2.

Courtois made a triple save in the second half to keep Hull at bay before Loic Remy scored the winner with his second touch after coming on as a substitute with 13 minutes to go.

Elsewhere Everton gave QPR their fifth defeat in a row to relieve some of the pressure on manager Roberto Martinez.

EPL top-scorers

19 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
     Diego Costa (Chelsea)
17 Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
15 Charlie Austin (QPR)

Source: Al Jazeera