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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everton Vs. Manchester United Match Result Report

The unpredictability of this season’s title race knows no bounds as a tired-looking United went down 3-1 to Everton – the Merseysiders’ second big scalp in ten days after defeating Chelsea at Goodison Park.

The Reds went in front after 16 minutes through Dimitar Berbatov, but Everton equalised three minutes later with a strike from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, and that was the game's pivotal moment. United struggled to control possession and didn’t work Tim Howard enough. Substitute Dan Gosling struck midway through the second half and, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men chased a late equaliser, another substitute Jack Rodwell hit a third.

United didn't look sturdy enough in defence, even though Nemanja Vidic was named in the squad, albeit only making the bench as he waits for his first appearance in 2010. The Serbian’s strength and no-nonsense defending was not called upon and with the Reds still shorn of Rio Ferdinand, serving the final instalment of a four-match ban, Sir Alex favoured Wes Brown and Jonny Evans at centre-half to deal with Louis Saha.

The Frenchman has scored 15 goals this season, including two against Chelsea when Everton sprung a surprise on Carlo Ancelotti’s men to win 2-1. David Moyes’ side have taken four points from the Blues this term. They started this game second in the form table. United top those standings and Everton’s solitary win in the last 29 league games with the Reds looked like an ominous statistic. The absence of key pair, Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini, due to injury wouldn’t have eased nerves either. But those figures provide no solace for United now.

The Reds went with a 4-4-2 formation, including Berbatov up front with Wayne Rooney. With Nani suspended and Ryan Giggs out due to a fractured arm, Antonio Valencia and Ji-sung Park manned the wings, with Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in central midfield. Gary Neville’s inclusion meant that both he and brother Phil were captains for the day. Such is the Nevilles’ competitive nature, they didn’t speak or even look at each other in the tunnel before kick-off.

The first opening was carved by United after 11 minutes, a neatly worked move down a right flank that was profitable in the first half, and ended with Fletcher striking left-footed over the bar. Two minutes later Everton went even closer when Saha’s long-range effort forced a good low save from Edwin van der Sar. United’s early joy down the right would soon bear fruit. Rooney sprayed a pass out to Valencia and Sylvain Distin failed to clear the Ecuadorian’s low cross. Berbatov’s first touch six yards out was sublime, his second was ruthless, spectacularly smashing the ball in off the bar to make it 1-0.

However, the Reds weren't allowed to settle into a lead as Everton drew level on 19 minutes. Saha won the aerial battle with Evans, knocking the ball down to Russian winger Bilyaletdinov, who cleverly used Wes Brown to conceal a wicked left-foot shot that left van der Sar rooted to the spot. Everton had their tails up, even if former idol Rooney was next to go close for United on 26 minutes. A clever one-two with Berbatov sent him clear and he rounded Tim Howard but his touch wasn’t as sharp as he’d have liked and Phil Neville was able to nick the ball off his toes.

United survived a scare seven minutes before the break when Landon Donovan failed to connect with the ball from six yards. As half-time approached, Sir Alex will have been preparing to demand his players take more control of the ball, particularly in central midfield areas where Everton had started to dictate play. The home side began the second half in much the same fashion, although a fizzing 20-yard drive from Fletcher whistled past the post and Berbatov sent a header narrowly wide as the Reds’ attacks gained purpose.

The Bulgarian forward was replaced after 66 minutes by Paul Scholes, Park off for Gabriel Obertan, and the Reds reverted to 4-5-1 with Rooney up front on his own and three men to win back territory in the middle of the pitch. It wasn’t effective enough and Everton looked like being the team that would score the game’s next goal. So it proved. Steven Pienaar found space on the left flank and fired a cross into the box, where substitute Dan Gosling scuffed the ball home on 76 minutes.

Four minutes later and with United chasing the game, Sir Alex made his third and final change – a last throw of the dice – replacing Valencia with Michael Owen. It was to no avail. Rooney was agonisingly close with a free-kick 25 yards out. His curling effort clipped Distin’s head to push the ball narrowly wide. It summed up Rooney’s and United’s afternoon. Close, but not quite good enough. To rub salt in the wounds, Rodwell emerged from the bench and raced beyond a leggy midfield and defence to fire the third. Another twist, then, but this time not in United’s favour. It's a sixth defeat in the league, the Reds can ill-afford any more.

Everton Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Everton [3 - 1] Manchester United
16' [0 - 1] D. Berbatov
19' [1 - 1] D. Bilyaletdinov
76' [2 - 1] D. Gosling
90' [3 - 1] J. Rodwell