Liverpool made one change from the victory over Southampton as Sterling replaced Coutinho and it was the visitors who made the better start as Sturridge received a nice pass from Henderson but hit a powerful shot that went off target. Van Persie collected a pass from Fellaini who had swept a cross to the back post towards the Dutchman but the resulting attempt was blocked.
Joe Allen had a great chance just before the half-hour mark as Sturridge looked to combine with Suarez and the ball bounced into the path of the Welshman but he mistimed the shot and De Gea collected it with ease.
Liverpool went in front within minutes as Suarez looked to cross and saw the ball rebound off the hand of Rafael reuslting in referee Mark Clattenburg pointing to the spot, Gerrard stepped up and cooly slotted past the diving De Gea to the joy of the travelling fans as Liverpool gained the advantage.
United looked to reply and Gerrard was on hand to deflect Van Persie's chance out for a corner and Mignolet palmed away a strong shot from Rooney who was then denied by a well-timed challenge from Skrtel which meant the visitors led at the break.
United's hopes of levelling were dealt a blow just seconds after the interval as Jones knocked Allen over in the penalty area and for a second time Clattenburg pointed to the spot. Gerrard stepped up and tapped an accurate effort into the corner to double the advantage and United's top four hopes were slipping away.
Januzaj looked to threaten the Liverpool defence as he dashed down the right wing and into the area but his reward was only a corner and from the resulting set-piece, Vidic leapt to meet the ball but his effort went over the bar. Rooney looked to pull one back but a melee in the Liverpool defence cleared the danger and Fellaini then hit over as time ticked on.
Rooney dribbled down the left and picked out fellow striker Van Persie in the middle but he glanced a header wide and Liverpool raced up the other end, Sturridge raced into the area and he went down after a challenge from Vidic who had been booked earlier on and as a result was dismissed. In doing so he extended his record to four dismissals against Liverpool in what is likely to be his last match against them before leaving United in the summer.
Gerrard stepped up looking to become the first player to score a hat-trick of penalties in the league but saw his effort cannon back of the post and the joy of a hat-trick would have to wait. Suarez looked to make it 3-0 when he connected to a pass over the top of the United defence but a superb volley was punched away by De Gea.
The Uruguayan got his reward for his efforts as Sturridge hit a shot that found the path of Suarez and he went on to slot past De Gea for his 25th league goal of the season that sent the away fans into hysterics and silenced the home fans who voiced their frustration at the final whistle as Liverpool celebrated a double over the defending champions while putting themselves firmly in the title race.