Everton’s good form continued with a deserved 3-1 home
victory against reigning champions Manchester United at
Second-half strikes from substitutes Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell secured the win for David Moyes’ side, striking a blow to Manchester United’s title aspirations.
The visitors had taken the lead through Dimitar Berbatov after 15 minutes but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalised just two minutes later with a stunning strike from 20 yards.
Everton were good value for the win as their industry and high work-rate denied their illustrious opponents the space in which to thrive. In-form Wayne Rooney had a rare off day for United, who now face a major battle to retain their title.
The Blues went into the match having lost only once in their last ten matches and they took the game to United early on. Leon Osman dribbled through but dragged his shot wide, and Louis Saha forced a smart save from Edwin Van der Sar.
United took the lead against the run of play after Berbatov controlled smartly in the box and shot high into the net. The lead was short-lived however as Bilyaletdinov picked the ball up on the right flank and cut inside before shooting powerfully into the net.
Both teams had chances to score in the remainder of the first-half with only excellent defensive work by Phil Neville denying Rooney, who had taken the ball round Everton keeper Tim Howard, while Landon Donovan screwed his shot wide from six yards.
The opening exchanges of the second period were scrappy, with players from both teams frequently losing possession. United eventually created a couple of clear chances with Darren Fletcher and Berbatov both going close.
Manager David Moyes had clearly identified Gary Neville as a potential weak link and he looked uncomfortable all afternoon, with Baines increasingly influential down the left-hand side.
Gosling replaced Bilyaletdinov after 69 minutes and got on the score-sheet just six minutes later, applying the finishing touch to some excellent wing play by Steven Pienaar.
United pressed hard for an equaliser but inevitably left some gaps at the back, giving substitute Rodwell a chance to surge forward unchallenged from midfield and place a controlled low shot past Van Der Sar.
Goodison Park erupted at the full-time whistle and manager Moyes looked suitably delighted. His side are now up to eighth place in the league and a push for fourth spot, and a coveted Champions League place, is gathering momentum.
By Liam Deveney
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Everton 3-1 Man United pics
Substitutes made the difference as Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell scored the vital goals