Man Utd 3-0 Everton

Manchester United moved back up to second in the table with a 3-0 victory over Everton at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils, beaten by Chelsea prior to the international break, dominated for long periods but it required a moment of magic from Darren Fletcher to break the deadlock on 35 minutes.

The Scottish midfielder showed perfect technique to volley a swerving effort in off the post from outside the area following good work by Patrice Evra and Antonio Valencia.

Everton briefly threatened a comeback before Michael Carrick coolly slotted home a Ryan Giggs cross in the 67th minute to double United's advantage.

Valencia's deflected strike sealed an emphatic win that keeps United five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Chances were at a premium in the early stages, with Wayne Rooney going close and Giggs testing Tim Howard, both efforts from the edge of the area.

Ferguson could not have had that in mind when he penned programme notes that called for a more clinical edge and a return to the form that saw United score five at Wigan, three at Tottenham and four to beat City.

Indeed, Everton, for all their failure to keep hold of the ball, also had a couple of decent long-range efforts, through Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha - returning to Old Trafford for the first time since calling time on his four-and-a-half injury-plagued years at the start of last season.

Then came the breakthrough. Fletcher did not exactly have the Everton goal at his mercy though as Valencia stretched to nod a deep Evra cross into his path 10 minutes before the break.

On the edge of the area, surrounded by visiting defenders, David Moyes might even have been relatively relaxed.

How wrong he would have been. With one swinging boot of the right foot, Fletcher sent the ball curling into the top corner, giving former team-mate Howard no chance.

Moyes was more vexed about an aerial collision between Nemanja Vidic and Johnny Heitinga that left the Dutchman with a nasty cut to his head, the inference from the Everton camp was clearly that an elbow had been used.

It was a point Moyes made to the fourth official at half-time, although by that stage he had decided direct intervention was needed.

The introduction of Yakubu Aiyegbeni for Dan Gosling took a while to have an impact but for a five-minute spell just after the hour mark, it had the hosts in trouble.

Everton's best chance fell to the Nigerian himself after he had muscled his way round Wes Brown.

Yakubu has scored for three previous clubs - Maccabi Haifa, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough - against United and must have thought he had completed a remarkable four-timer when he sent his shot fizzing towards the bottom corner.

Edwin Van der Sar was struggling but, unfortunately for the visitors, it went just wide. It was just the invitation United needed to seal the contest.

By his own high standards, Giggs had endured a quiet evening. But, in exactly the right position to retrieve a Rooney shot that would have gone for a throw, the veteran Welshman quickly spotted Carrick on the edge of the area.

It is just the situation Carrick thrives on and he placed a low, precise shot into the corner, again leaving Howard helpless.

Valencia bagged a third when he strode on to Scholes' lay-off to ensure United remained five points adrift of Chelsea and, with injuries beginning to bite at Arsenal, the title race already looks to be narrowing to two.

Source: Sky Sports
Date Published: 22 November 2009