(Reuters) - Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney endured "one of his worst days in football" after bitter rivals Liverpool inflicted a humiliating 3-0 defeat on his team at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Rooney summed up the mood of the champions after they conceded three penalties and captain Nemanja Vidic was sent off to gift a dominant Liverpool side a comfortable victory which effectively end United's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
"It's a nightmare. It's one of the worst days I've ever had in football," the England striker told MUTV.
"It's hard to take. You have to give Liverpool credit - they played well - but it's difficult to take. Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium. It's not nice."
Two Steven Gerrard penalties and a Luis Suarez goal were the source of Rooney's misery but in truth Liverpool could have scored a few more, with Gerrard missing a third penalty and Sturridge being denied another despite strong claims after a tackle from Michael Carrick.
"To go behind by one penalty was hard to take," Rooney said. "We had a game plan for the second half, which went out the window when they got the second penalty so early on.
"Then, to concede a third penalty, even though they missed, was a big blow to us. We were then chasing the game with 10 men. That made it difficult for us and they kept the ball well to see the game out.
"I haven't seen the penalties back again but from where I was standing on the pitch I don't think we can argue with them."
Rooney's admission that the defeat joined some of the worst days in his career was an indication of the extent to which their rivals from the north west inflicted misery on his beleaguered team.
The striker has endured spectacularly bad days on the pitch, with a sending-off against Portugal for England in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final and two Champions League final defeats ranking high on the list.
It was United's ninth league loss of the season and left them in seventh place, 12 points adrift of fourth and a Champions League qualification spot.
In contrasting fortunes Liverpool moved in to second place and are now four points behind leaders Chelsea, with an extra game to play.
(Reporting by Sam Holden, editing by Ed Osmond)