LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers insisted the best team lost and blamed mistakes by referee Mark Halsey for contributing to their first defeat to Manchester United at Anfield since 2007.
The Reds dominated for the majority of the match, even after Jonjo Shelvey’s 39th-minute red card for a two-footed lunge on Jonny Evans, but lost 2-1.
Steven Gerrard’s volley gave his side the lead seconds after the interval but Rafael curled in an equaliser before Robin van Persie scored United’s first penalty of the season after Glen Johnson was adjudged to have brought down Antonio Valencia.
However, Rodgers took issue with the sending-off, the penalty and Halsey’s decision not to award Liverpool a spot-kick when Luis Suarez was felled in the second half.
“We are bitterly disappointed with the result, I thought the best team lost,” he said.
“Of what we could control I thought the players and performance level was outstanding, what we couldn’t control were decisions by the referee.
“If Shelvey gets sent off for having both feet off the ground then Evans has to get sent off for that as well if you watch the replays.
“Jonjo is coming in from the side, it is a tackle the player has to go for and one the United player has to go for but the Liverpool player can’t get sent off and the United one stay on the field.
“I thought it was very harsh and that was how it was throughout the game as a number of poor decisions went against us.
“The penalty was never a penalty. Johnson has made a fantastic recovery back in and I have no idea why Valencia goes down.
“Up the other end Suarez gets a toe on the ball, gets contact, goes down and doesn’t get the penalty.
“It was one of the those days where we never got any decision which could have helped us at all and when you lose a man you need some help.”
As Shelvey departed the field he had an angry exchange with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson but Rodgers insists he did not see it.
The midfielder apologised for the tackle but not for his reaction afterwards.
“I apologise to the fans for getting sent off but no way was I pulling out of that tackle in a game of that importance. I’m sorry,” he wrote on Twitter.
Newcastle United saw off Norwich City 1-0 thanks to a Demba Ba strike, Tottenham came from a goal behind to beat Queens Park Rangers courtesy of a Alejandro Faurlin own goal and Jermain Defoe.
Laurent Koscielny cancelled out Joleon Lescott’s first-half header as Arsenal drew 1-1 with reigning champions Manchester City.