The Reds skipper started the game on the substitutes’ bench but after a slack first-half display from the hosts he was introduced at the half-time interval for Adam Lallana.
Brought on to add calmness and a sense of leadership, the 34-year-old showed anything but as he was immediately involved in a thunderous tackle and a subsequent stamp on United’s Ander Herrera.
It was inexplicable from a player with such experience and former referee Graham Poll felt the Kop idol left Martin Atkinson with little option other than to brandish a straight red card.
“Steven Gerrard will know how stupid he was in retaliating to Anders Herrera’s late challenge with a stamp to the United player's calf in the first minute of the second half,” Poll explained.
“Martin Atkinson, having seen the incident clearly, was left with no option but to dismiss the Liverpool captain who had only been on the field for just 33 seconds.
“These clashes are adrenalin fuelled emotional affairs when the crowd can affect the mood of the players and it was clear from Gerrard’s first tackle, which the Anfield crowd loved and rose as soon as he had made it, that Gerrard was determined to leave a mark on his final clash with Manchester United. He certainly did that but not how he would have wanted.”
Two goals from Juan Mata either side of Gerrard’s red card put the Red Devils firmly in control of the contest and, despite Daniel Sturridge pulling one back, United could afford to miss a late penalty on their way to a 2-1 victory.
It snaps the Reds’ impressive 13-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and moves Louis van Gaal’s side five points clear of their rivals in the race for a top-four spot.
There are still eight games remaining and points will be dropped, but the psychological boost the Old Trafford outfit will receive from the victory will arguably now make them favourites to finish above the Reds.