(CNN)Steven Gerrard's final appearance as a Liverpool player against bitter rival Manchester United lasted just 38 seconds as his side slipped to a 2-1 defeat in a crucial English Premier League game Sunday.
Steven Gerrard sees red as Manchester United beats Liverpool
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Gerrard, introduced as a second half substitute to revive the flagging home side, was given his marching orders for a stamp on Ander Herrera.
Down to 10 men, Liverpool quickly fell 2-0 behind to a second from Juan Mata before a 69th minute goal from Daniel Sturridge ensured a rousing finale at Anfield.
Manchester United nerves were hardly helped by Wayne Rooney's failure to convert a penalty in injury time, but Louis van Gaal's men held on for a crucial three points in the battle for Champions League spots.
It left United in fourth place, but crucially five points clear of Liverpool and only two points adrift of city rival Manchester City in second spot.
Gerrard, who will bring down the curtain on his glorious career at Liverpool at the end of the season with a move to Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS, apologized for his moment of madness after the game.
"I've let my teammates down and accept full responsibility for it," he told Sky Sports.
Liverpool went in to the match in a rich vein of form, but United took a firm early grip and deservedly went ahead when Mata beat Simon Mignolet after being played through by Herrera for a 14th minute opener.
Adam Lallana wasted Liverpool's best chance of the first half and was replaced by Gerrard at the break.
The former England captain's appearance was short lived for the wrong reasons, reacting to a nasty foul by Herrera by inflicting his revenge in the full sight of referee Martin Atkinson.
Mata's glorious scissor kick for the United second on 58 minutes looked to have sealed a comfortable win but Sturridge pulled one back when he beat David De Gea at his near post.
United survived some anxious moments before Emre Can pulled down Daley Blind and, in the final act of a dramatic match, Rooney saw his penalty kick saved by Mignolet.
Later Sunday, Chelsea extended its lead at the top of the EPL to six points with a game in hand over its chasers with a 3-2 win at Hull City.
It was hardly convincing by the table-toppers, who led 2-0 early in the game after Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, with his 20th of the season, converted.
But relegation battlers Hull hit back with two goals in just over a minute as Ahmed Elmohamady scored after a fine move and Abel Hernandez equalized after a howler by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Jose Mourinho's halftime team talk clearly helped and the visitors had the better of the second half, capped by a winning goal from substitute Loic Remy.
He had come on for the injured Costa and his low shot slid under Allan McGregor in the home goal for a rather fortunate third but decisive goal.
In the other EPL game played Sunday, on-loan Aaron Lennon scored Everton's winner in the 2-1 victory at QPR, which remains in the bottom three.