LIVERPOOL, England (AP) -- Daniel Sturridge scored Liverpool's winner for the third straight Premier League game to condemn fierce rival Manchester United to a 1-0 loss on Sunday, handing David Moyes his first defeat as manager of the champions.
The England striker flicked home a close-range header in the fourth minute to maintain his red-hot form and his side's perfect start to the season. Liverpool has won all three of its games 1-0.
United barely created a clear-cut chance in the absence of Wayne Rooney, missing after sustaining a head injury in training on Saturday, and has just four points from a possible nine under Moyes. And with an away match at Manchester City to come in his fifth league match, the start to Moyes' tenure as Alex Ferguson's replacement doesn't get any easier.
Even after spending 11 years in charge of Everton, he has still never won at Anfield.
The match was played on the eve of what would have been the 100th birthday of the late Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who died in 1981 after helping turn the club into the leading force in English football in a 15-year spell from 1959-74.
Shankly's daughter and six grandchildren stood on the touchline as Liverpool fans - and most of United's travelling fans - took part in a minute's applause in the Scot's honor. There was a mosaic of Shankly in The Kop stand, along with a banner saying "He Made People Happy,'' while a stirring rendition of club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone'' was belted out before kickoff.
It certainly got Liverpool's players fired up and they were first to every ball in a breathless opening spell in which Sturridge grabbed an 11th goal in his last nine Liverpool games.
Daniel Agger beat Rio Ferdinand to Steven Gerrard's outswinging corner and Sturridge was there inside the six-yard box to stoop and flick home a deft header. The sound was deafening as Sturridge and the whole Liverpool team ran to manager Brendan Rodgers, who has instilled belief into the striker since his move from Chelsea in January.
United took its time to get into the game, although it needed a great challenge from Glen Johnson to stop Robin van Persie getting his shot away. That added to a frustrating first half for the Dutchman, who tangled with Agger early on, was booked for a petty foul on the same defender and then got in heated confrontations with Martin Skrtel and Gerrard just before halftime.
It was a tight, frenetic and typically feisty encounter between England's most successful clubs, who have won the top-flight title 38 times between them. Liverpool's last came in 1990, however, and it has been in its rival's shadow during Ferguson's trophy-laden reign.
With Ferguson now gone, Liverpool can maybe start dreaming of closing the gap. Three straight wins to start the season, after already beating Stoke and Aston Villa, isn't a bad way to start although the team had to work hard in the second half to achieve it.
Liverpool - in particular its lightweight forward line - couldn't keep the ball after the break as United pressed but chances remained at a premium until the final 10 minutes when Van Persie was played in down the right channel but shot wide right-footed on the slide.
Right backs Phil Jones and Glen Johnson went off injured to provide England manager Roy Hodgson, who was watching on at Anfield, with another headache to add to Rooney's potential absence from upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
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