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 halftime 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.
Skipper Gerrard could have completed a rare hat-trick of spot kicks but struck the foot of the post after Nemanja Vidic was red-carded for tripping Daniel Sturridge shortly before Suarez completed the rout.
With nine matches remaining to Chelsea's eight, Liverpool's run of five consecutive league wins has left them four points behind Jose Mourinho's side who were beaten 1-0 at Aston Villa on Saturday having had two men sent off.
Liverpool, seeking a first English title since 1990, could have won by an even bigger margin as they underlined the incredible turnaround in fortunes for English's football's two great north west rivals.
They ended last season 28 points behind champions United, who managed one shot on target on Sunday, but are now 14 clear of David Moyes' side who now look almost certain to finish outside the Premier League's top four for the first time.
"I got a bit cocky with the third penalty," Gerrard told Sky Sports. "I've come here many times and been played off the park and but to come here and dominate like we did, we're even a bit upset we didn't get more goals.
"I don't think their defence has ever had a more difficult 90 minutes."
Gerrard's first penalty after 33 minutes followed a deliberate handball 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 day 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 again Suarez's neat finish after 84 minutes capped a dazzling Liverpool display.
Vidic, who is joining Inter Milan at the end of the season, now has four red cards against Liverpool in his United career, more than any other player against one opponent in the history of the Premier League.
United's ninth defeat of the season, a new record for the club in the Premier League, left them languishing in seventh place with 48 points.
Image: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring a penalty against Manchester United during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford.
Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters