LONDON, Sep 15 (Reuters) Manchester United claimed their third consecutive 1-0 victory today thanks to a late header by Nemanja Vidic at Everton.
The Serbian defender decided a forgettable clash at Goodison Park, heading in Nani's corner seven minutes from time to briefly put United top of the Premier League.
Liverpool dislodged them less than an hour later, drawing 0-0 at Portsmouth in another game where several players appeared jaded after midweek internationals.
United and Liverpool have 11 points, although Liverpool have played one game less and possess a superior goal difference.
Arsenal, who started the day in third place, were also in early action at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur while Chelsea host Blackburn Rovers in a late kickoff.
United and Everton hardly mustered a chance in a first half overshadowed by a nasty-looking knee injury for France defender Mikael Silvestre.
Everton's best opportunity came just after halftime when Andy Johnson's header was kicked off the line by Paul Scholes and James McFadden, Scotland's hero in midweek against France, was denied an equaliser by United keeper Edwin van der Sar.
Liverpool were given a let-off in the first half at Fratton Park when Portsmouth striker Nwankwo Kanu was pulled back in the penalty area by Alvaro Arbeloa but had his penalty saved by keeper Pepe Reina.
Rafael Benitez left Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres on the bench before sending them on in the second half and they almost combined to win the game for Liverpool.
Gerrard surged through and played in the Spaniard but he lofted his shot high over the bar when well placed.
Portsmouth could have won it late on when Sulley Muntari scuffed a shot wide after being set up by Kanu.
REUTERS PDS PM2106