Manchester United beat Everton at Old Trafford to go 12 points clear of Manchester City, who were beaten miserably by a spirited Southampton side. 🙂
The Red Devils showed what perfection means when they swept aside Everton through two first-half goals by Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie, in a fixture which proved to be United’s downfall last season. A team which has proved to be one of the most challenging ones for United to face in the recent seasons, Everton looked nothing like a side which could dent United’s hopes of gaining further lead over their noisy neighbours.
David Moyes said in his pre-match interview, ‘This is the best time to play Manchester United and beat them,’ you know, because Manchester United have to face Real Madrid on Wednesday. Tried to play a clever one on Sir Alex Ferguson. What he did not know, perhaps, is that Sir Alex has been dealing with such mind games for 26 years now :-). The result – Manchester United play one of their most perfect games this season.
Sir Alex Ferguson put out a rather strong side, showing his intent to win this game, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie as the striking duo. Veteran (hardly) Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia the wingmen, while Tom Cleverly started in the midfield. The Jack of all trades, Phil Jones, accompanied Cleverly in the midfield with the apparent intention to make sure Everton’s star man Marouane Fellaini had a quiet game. The back four consisted of Nemanja Vidic, Johnny Evans, Rafael DaSilva and Patrice Evra. David De Gea was chosen over Anders Lindegaard yet again to guard the post.
The Reds had a glorious opportunity inside 10 minutes when van Persie broke Everton’s offside trap and found himself alone with the opposition’s goalkeeper, Tim Howard. He was successful in dodging Howard but could only manage to hit the woodwork from his wrong footed effort. But he made up for his miss 3 minutes later. 🙂
van Persie won the ball in Everton’s box from a Valencia cross and squared the ball to Ryan Giggs. Giggsy controlled the ball with his left and placed it sweetly into the net from his right to score his first league goal of the season. He has now scored in all 21 seasons of the premier league he has played in, an amazing feat! The goal also made him the second oldest player to ever score in the premier league, the oldest being another United man, Teddy Sheringham, who scored at the age of 40! 🙂
Everton certainly isn’t a team to get pegged back so easily, and so they showed with their attacking and flowing football. United, however, stood firm and did not let any of those attacks materialize into anything deadly. The closest the Toffees came to was a volleyed effort by Leon Osman which almost looked like the equalizer, till De Gea flew (literally!) across the goal to make a brilliant save. It was apparent that Fellaini would be an obvious threat from set piece situations, which is why Phil Jones was chosen in the role of midfield, to make sure the Belgian had a quiet evening. The 20 year old (he turns 21 later this month) was up for the job and did well to keep Fellaini under control.
United had a rather silent first half post their goal, until the extra time of first half when van Persie doubled the lead. It was Rafael’s clever pass this time that helped him beat the offside trap once again. He rounded up the goalkeeper, once again. He took the shot from his weaker foot, once again! He was on target this time. 🙂 John Heitinga tried to get back in time but could not do much more than helping the ball into the net. The Reds finished the second half with a comfortable 2-0 over their opponents.
The second half began much like the first as Man Utd looked keen on scoring more goals. Shortly after, Phil Jones suffered a knock and was forced to withdraw near the hour mark. Replacing him was Michael Carrick who only strengthed United’s midfield even more. Man Utd came shockingly close to scoring their 3rd of the game from a van Persie corner when Johnny Evans’ header was kept out by Tim Howard. What followed was a scramble where Evans was denied yet again, this time, by Nikica Jelavic. Shortly after, Tom Cleverly showed everyone why he is considered the next Paul Scholes when he volleyed the ball from outside the penalty box. TimHoward was up for it yet again and kept the ball out by his fingertips.
De Gea had to make a similar save when Jelavic attempted a long range shot. That pretty much summed it up for Everton as they could not repeat the heroics of last season by coming back from a two goal deficit. United held their ground, defended strongly and saw the match out to record a vital win. 🙂
Sir Alex sure looked happy to be 12 points ahead of his noisy neighbours.
United on their way to the 20th league title!
Glory Glory Man United!! 😀