Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hailed his side's 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield as one of the most important moments of his career.

Van Gaal, who in an illustrious career has won league titles at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and the Champions League with Ajax, has endured a shaky start in his first season as Manchester United manager.

But after losing at home to Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter final earlier this month, van Gaal has now picked up two wins in a row against the Red Devils' top four rivals, beating Spurs 3-0 and now Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield.

Two goals from Juan Mata saw Manchester United emerge the victors against their fierce north-west rivals, in a fiery match that saw Steven Gerrard sent off only 38 seconds after coming on as a sub when he stamped on Ander Herrera. After the match van Gaal told the press the importance of the win.

"[Liverpool] were in fantastic shape and we beat them with their own weapons, with pressure on the ball. And now the gap is one point behind, five points ahead Liverpool, and six ahead Tottenham and Southampton. So at the moment to win it is very important, one of the most important moments in my career I think," he added.

The result leaves Manchester United in the driving seat to qualify for the Champions League, with van Gaal's side now five points ahead of 5th-placed Liverpool with eight games remaining. The Red Devils next face Aston Villa at home, before a trip to local rivals and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.