Football: Gerrard scores twice from spot as Liverpool crush United

LONDON (REUTERS) - Two Steven Gerrard penalties helped Liverpool to a crushing 3-0 victory at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday, to leave them breathing down the necks of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Gerrard's strikes either side of half-time put the visitors in control and Luis Suarez sealed only Liverpool's second win at Old Trafford in nearly 10 years with a well-taken third.

The Reds skipper could have completed a rare hat-trick of spot kicks but struck the post after Nemanja Vidic was red-carded for tripping Daniel Sturridge shortly before Suarez completed the rout.

Gerrard's first penalty after 33 minutes followed a deliberate hand-ball by Rafael that could have earned the defender a second yellow card, while his second shortly after the break was for a clumsy Phil Jones challenge on Joe Allen.

United's afternoon went from bad to worse, when Vidic sent Sturridge sprawling in the area with a lunging tackle and though Gerrard could not beat David de Gea for a third time, Suarez's neat finish after 84 minutes capped a dazzling Liverpool display.

Defeat left United languishing in seventh place with 48 points, 11 adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, who are in action later on Sunday at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea lead on 66 points.