Neither side provided any real quality in the attacking third, which paved the way for a tame opening 45 minutes in the derby affair.
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The best opportunity of the half fell the home side's way, and it came about following some shaky goalkeeping from Reds stopper Simon Mignolet.
Just seven minutes were on the clock when the Belgian threw the ball straight at Juan Mata on the edge of the box, with Marouane Fellaini - fielded as United's most advanced player this evening in the absence of Wayne Rooney - lofting his attempt over the bar.
It was the Red Devils who found their groove the quickest, but Fellaini was unable to turn and hit the ball when picked out by a marauding Matteo Darmian down the right in the next attacking move.
Liverpool, who have avoided defeat on just one of their last eight visits to the Theatre of Dreams, did show signs of growing into the game when Nathaniel Clyne sliced wide from range 20 minutes in.
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As the first half wore on, Louis van Gaal's charges continued to dominate possession, without truly troubling their opponents in an attacking sense.
Christian Benteke, with goals in each of his last two games against United, did find himself in behind the hosts' defence only for the offside flag to be raised, as the uninspiring opening 45 minutes continued.
The first half eventually came to a close with neither keeper having a single save to make, as the returning David de Gea watched on as a mere spectator in goals.