Everton 3-1 Man Utd

Everton's fine form continued on Saturday as they saw off Manchester United 3-1 at Goodison Park.

The Toffees fell behind to a Dimitar Berbatov opener, but hit back almost immediately through Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

David Moyes threw on Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell after the break as he went in search of a winner and the youngsters duly obliged as they sealed a memorable success for the Merseysiders with two late goals.

Everton started brightly in the winter sun, but it did not take the Red Devils long to find their stride and it was they who forged ahead inside 16 minutes.

Antonio Valencia, who caused all sorts of problems down the right, fired over a low cross which Sylvain Distin could only touch into the path of Berbatov.

The Bulgarian needed only one cushioned touch to set himself before rifling home off the underside of the crossbar.

Everton were shocked but drew level inside three minutes as Bilyaletdinov latched onto a loose ball 20 yards from goal and drilled past a motionless Edwin van der Sar.

The second half failed to match the first 45 for entertainment, but the Toffees will not be complaining as they sent the locals into dreamland with a late double.

Steven Pienaar drilled over a cross from the left after 76 minutes, Louis Saha missed his kick in the middle but Gosling was on hand behind him to steer the ball into the bottom corner.

The Toffees then put the seal on a well-earned victory in the final minute when Rodwell, with virtually his first touch, barged his way into the box and lashed across Van der Sar.

After flattening Chelsea with a sucker punch on their last league outing, Everton completed a spectacular one-two to leave United's title challenge on the ropes.

Just as they did against Carlo Ancelotti's men 10 days ago, David Moyes' team roared back from a goal down to register another famous win, which could have even greater consequences at the top given United are the ones playing catch-up.

For Wayne Rooney, Everton's first victory over United - excluding penalty shoot-outs - for five years, and only their second in 32 games, would have been particularly galling given his history, although for once, England's talisman failed to make much of an impact.

Unlike Rooney, the debate over Berbatov's value to United continues to rage.

At 30.75million, the Bulgarian cost them more than any other player.

Yet he has largely become a peripheral figure, to the extent that he was making his first away start since December when he strutted into proceedings.

The argument goes that Berbatov's languid style is not suited to United's all-action approach and with Ferguson preferring to use Wayne Rooney as a lone front-man, flanked by a couple of industrious wingers, the former Tottenham star frequently finds himself surplus to requirements, as he was in Milan this week.

Yet there is little doubt either that Berbatov is blessed with sublime skill.

And when Distin failed to cut out Valencia's low cross, he killed the ball with one touch before smashing it into the roof of Tim Howard's net.

Given the dominance United had enjoyed until that point, Everton desperately needed to score next.

That they did so inside three minutes was probably beyond Moyes' wildest dreams.

The goal had route one stamped all over it as Phil Neville launched the ball out of his own half.

Jonny Evans jumped with Saha but, off balance, could only head the ball straight to Bilyaletdinov.

There appeared to be no imminent danger to Van der Sar's goal but, spotting a gap low to the Dutchman's left, Bilyaletdinov let fly with such power there was no chance to move before it flashed into the net.

The atmosphere instantly lurched from apprehensive to expectant.

As Rooney, possibly guilty of trying too hard against his old club, was having a rare off-day, the visitors' dominance of possession failed to translate into threats on the Everton goal.

Instead, United were the ones who found themselves rocking, just as Chelsea had done once their lead disappeared.

Bilyaletdinov drove over following an excellent piece of skill from Saha, then Landon Donovan wasted an even better chance after Wes Brown had prodded Leighton Baines' cross into his path.

The interval was not kind to Everton in the sense that it allowed their visitors time to regroup and rediscover the poise and authority they had enjoyed before Bilyaletdinov's leveller.

Darren Fletcher exchanged passes with Rooney before drilling a shot wide.

Berbatov then showed his frustrating side when he glanced a header wide from Rooney's cross when he should have at least kept his effort on target.

It proved to be the Bulgarian's last meaningful contribution before Ferguson reverted to the two winger approach and introduced Gabriel Obertan with a quarter of the contest still remaining.

Moyes made the most telling substitution shortly afterwards, when he replaced Bilyaletdinov with Gosling.

Ferguson will be demanding to know why Valencia let Pienaar run unchecked onto Donovan's short pass towards the by-line.

It provided the South African with time to pick out Gosling's run and, getting in front of Patrice Evra, the youngster duly bundled home from six yards.

Hearts continued to be in mouths and fingernails shorn as Rooney's free-kick shaved the post. But this was to be Everton's day.

It has been claimed Rodwell will one day follow Rooney out of the blue half of Merseyside to Old Trafford.

Once Ferguson has spat out the bitter taste of his side's sixth defeat of the season, even he will probably admire the clinical way he finished off Mikel Arteta's through-ball at the death.

Source: Sky Sports
Date Published: 20 February 2010