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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Everton Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United ground out a hard-fought point at Goodison Park, surviving a second-half onslaught from Everton after utterly dominating the first period.

Darren Fletcher put the Reds ahead midway through the first half, and Everton were dependent on an inspired first 45 minutes from former United goalkeeper Tim Howard to keep them in the game.

A fired up Toffees side turned the game on its head after the break, however, upsetting United's rhythm and drawing level through Marouane Fellaini's towering header.

The second half was a far cry from the first, when United looked sharp from the very first whistle. Ryan Giggs and Fletcher in particular were inspired, dominating the central midfield battle against a Toffees side shorn of the suspended Tim Cahill.

The pair gave a masterclass in movement and one-touch passing. Giggs saw an early shot saved by Howard and Fletcher had a header deflected wide but, after 21 minutes, the pair combined to devastating effect.

Fletcher's initial blocked shot ricocheted to Giggs, 30 yards out. The Welshman threaded a perfect ball through to Fletcher, who had continued his run, and watched on as one touch bypassed Joleon Lescott, and a second slipped the ball between Howard's legs.

An already one-sided encounter looked like it become embarrassingly so as United, buoyed by the goal, surged forward in search of more. But for the efforts of Howard, who at one point made three fine saves in a minute, Everton would have been buried by the break.

First, the American tipped Ronaldo's 30-yarder round the post, then reacted brilliantly to keep out Nemanja Vidic's flicked header from the resultant corner. In the same passage of play, Giggs beat two players and curled an effort goalwards, only for Howard to tip it wide.

In a rare Everton foray forward, Vidic was booked for a lunging challenge on former team-mate Louis Saha. Giggs almost followed the Serbian into the book minutes later for exactly the same act, but referee Alan Wiley spotted that the Welshman had slipped.

Wayne Rooney, chasing his 100th career club goal just a day after his 23rd birthday, was almost able to celebrate his landmark at the Gladwys Street End, but was denied a clear sight of goal by a superb last-ditch challenge from Phil Jagielka.

At half-time, the main worry for United was that such dominance had yielded just the one goal. Everton's trademark pluck - on the field and in the stands - had been nowhere before the interval. After it, it was a different story.

David Moyes' side flew out of the traps, hurtling into challenges and whipping the home crowd into a frenzy. One such challenge - an after-the-whistle lunge from Phil Neville on Ronaldo, had United's players incensed, but referee Wiley opted to brandish just a yellow card to the former Reds defender.

That decision proved telling after 64 minutes, when Neville whipped in a superb right-wing cross, and giant midfielder Fellaini was on hand to power in a header.

The goal been coming, and matters could have been worsened a minute later when Rio Ferdinand underhit a backpass. Yakubu strode through on goal, but Edwin van der Sar did brilliantly to tip the Nigerian's shot onto the post.

United drew the sting out of Everton's approach in the latter stages, and twice could have snatched the points through Ronaldo. Firstly though, Yobo managed to deflect away his close-range effort, before the winger dragged a clear shot wide with just two minutes remaining.

Despite some five minutes of added time being played, that was the final meaningful act of the match. Although the Reds did well to weather a post-interval storm, Sir Alex Ferguson will undoubtedly see this result as two points dropped.

Team Line-ups

Everton: Howard; P Neville, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Fellaini, Osman, Pienaar; Saha (Anichebe 90), Yakubu (Vaughan 88).
Subs not used: Nash, Baines, Valente, Castillo, Rodwell.
Booked: Jagielka, P Neville, Fellaini.

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Fletcher (Tevez 77), Giggs, Park (Anderson 66); Berbatov, Rooney (Nani 69).
Subs not used: Kuszczak, G Neville, J Evans, O'Shea.
Booked: Vidic, Rooney, Brown.


Boss laments dropped points

Sir Alex Ferguson was left to rue United's missed chances after being held to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park, but conceded that Everton's tigerish second half display was worthy of a point.

Darren Fletcher's first half strike was United's only reward for a dominant, swaggering first-half display in which Tim Howard performed heroics for Everton. After the interval, however, the hosts upped their physical approach and snatched a draw through Marouane Fellaini's header.

"We've thrown it away in a way because we've had so much control of the match," Sir Alex told MUTV. "It's disappointing to lose two points for that.

"We had good chances, we played some fantastic football. It was a golden spell for us and these are the times you should be capitalising. We didn't, and we've suffered.

"But you have to give credit to Everton, they've fought like tigers the second half, they changed the pattern of their game and got stuck right into us. We've only ourselves to blame and we can't deny Everton their point."

Despite the disappointment of dropping points at Goodison Park, Sir Alex is in confident mood going into the Reds' next two games - the visits of West Ham and Hull City.

"The form of the team is good," he said. "I think we're playing some great football. We were maybe a bit careless in the second half and we lived to regret that. The important thing is the form of the team. They're all fit, all looking well and we've got a good squad here."


Substitution saved Rooney

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney was substituted to avoid being sent off against Everton.

The former Goodison favourite, who has shared a fiery relationship with Everton fans since leaving the club in 2004, was booked by referee Alan Wiley for an innocuous looking challenge midway through the second half of Saturday's draw.

Rooney reacted to the home fans' baitings by kissing his United badge, further fanning the flames, and was substituted shortly after amid fears that Wiley's unpredictable behaviour could have seen Rooney red-carded.

"I don't know why he was booked," said Sir Alex. "The crowd obviously got him booked but the way the referee was behaving, I feared he may be sent off. For no reason, of course, but just the way the crowd was reacting, getting him booked in the first place, I just felt I had to take him off."

While Sir Alex paid tribute to Everton's feisty approach, he admitted that he expected to see his players given more protection by referee Wiley.

"There were tackles everywhere and I don't think the referee protected our players enough," said the manager. "I felt for a while as if I was watching Australian rules!

"The way the modern game is, with the speed of challenges, you have to be careful. Some tackles were going on there that weren't right. It's the referee's job to make sure the players are protected, and I don't think they were."


We should have coped better

Ryan Giggs says the Reds should not have allowed Everton's gutsy second half display to upset their rhythm after totally outplaying the home side before the break.

The Reds utterly dominated the first period with Giggs pulling the strings in the centre of midfield and it was the skipper's pinpoint pass into the path of Darren Fletcher which led to United's opener on 21 minutes.

But a rejuvenated Everton side, no doubt given the hairdryer treatment by David Moyes at half-time, came out fighting after the restart eventually drawing level through Marouane Fellaini.

"We knew we needed that second goal because we expected Everton to put us under a lot of pressure after the break and that's how it proved," Giggs told MUTV.

"They got in about us, got the ball forward to Louis [Saha] and Yakubu who are both a handful, and in general made it difficult for us.

"We should have been able to overcome that though because it's something we're used to. But unfortunately we couldn't really get back into our rhythm and we just didn't pass and move as well as we did before the break.

"When you go 1-0 ahead at a place like this you do feel it's two points dropped," added the 34-year-old. "But in the end we could have lost it. So we're disappointed, but know it could have been worse."

While Everton's blood and thunder approach ultimately earned them a valuable point, it also somewhat irked Sir Alex's men particularly when former Red Phil Neville clattered into Cristiano Ronaldo midway through the second period.

"Tackles were flying in and you accept that in these kind of games," said Giggs. "But I felt Cristiano was on the floor and couldn't really defend himself."


Everton Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Everton [1 - 1] Manchester United
22' [0 - 1] D. Fletcher
63' [1 - 1] M. Fellaini