United's Brazilian midfielder Anderson had to clear off his own goal line in the first half [AFP]

Manchester United went to the top of the English Premier League for at least two hours, after a 1-0 win away to Liverpool.

A goal from Carlos Tevez towards the end of the first half gave United the win on Sunday.

The game lacked opportunities and quality despite the two teams beginning the day in second and fifth positions respectively.

Owen Hargreaves replaced Michael Carrick in midfield for Man United, while Liverpool were unchanged from the side that beat Marseille in the Champions League in mid-week.

Tense derby

In a tight first half-an-hour Liverpool came closest. A goal mouth scramble saw a Harry Kewell shot cleared off the line by Anderson and Fernando Torres head the rebound just wide after goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar had flapped at a cross.

Three minutes later the United defence was in disarray again as van der Sar slipped under a high cross and Ferdinand's resulting header went backwards, requiring Patrick Evra to clear the ball from in front of his own goal.

Tensions were high with bookings for Evra, Wes Brown, Anderson and Alvaro Arbeloa in the first half.

Man United failed to threaten the Liverpool goal until the 43rd minute when a corner played to the edge of the Liverpool penalty area was hit low by Giggs into a mass of players. Tevez got the last touch flicking the ball into the top of net from three yards.

Liverpool pressed for an equaliser in the second half but were only able to come close with a Ryan Babel effort from the edge of the penalty area on 75 minutes, which whizzed past van der Sar's left hand post.

Liverpool's attacking was laboured and failed to produce any telling efforts, with the Man United defence standing up to most approaches.

Wanye Rooney next found himself unmarked at the far post after United broke but put his shot wide. It was one of only a few chances for United.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard put a free-kick just over the top-left of the cross bar in injury time. But his side had failed to create any meaningful openings and remian outside the top four.

Source: Agencies