Everton 3-3 Man Utd

Everton produced a dramatic injury-time comeback to claim a 3-3 draw at home to a Manchester United side missing Wayne Rooney.

With Rooney left out to avoid a barrage of abuse at his former Goodison Park stamping ground, United were comfortably on course for a first away win of the season when leading 3-1 into stoppage-time.

But Tim Cahill's header revived a flagging Everton side and the Australian then nodded the ball back for Mikel Arteta to volley home a sensational equaliser.

Everton dominated the opening exchanges and saw Arteta's free-kick brush the crossbar before United responded through the unlikely source of John O'Shea, whose searing volley crashed off the woodwork.

There was a tremendous ebb and flow to the contest, but it was Everton's Tim Howard who was the busiest keeper as he produced a brilliant reflex save with his foot to prevent Paul Scholes' deflected shot flying into the net.

Howard's next save denied Ryan Giggs and, from the ensuing corner, Everton broke to take the lead on 39 minutes through Steven Pienaar's tidy finish after Arteta had been thwarted by Edwin van der Sar.

But Everton were unable to hold on to the lead until half-time as United drew level two minutes before the break when Darren Fletcher guided Nani's excellent cross beyond the exposed Howard.

And within two minutes of the start of the second half United were in front after another superb ball in from Nani was headed past Howard by the unmarked Nemanja Vidic.

United appeared to put the game to bed on 66 minutes when Scholes' searching pass was brought under control by Dimitar Berbatov with his first touch and, with his second, the Bulgarian nonchalantly flicked his shot past Howard.

Everton refused to give up and were rewarded when Cahill and Arteta conjured up an unlikely point to deny Sir Alex Ferguson victory in his 700th Premier League game.

Rooney's absence seemed to affect United more than they expected as, for the first 15 minutes, they found themselves under constant pressure.

Arteta's sixth-minute free-kick clipped the bar, the Spaniard had another shot deflected behind by Jonny Evans, Pienaar saw his shot from the Spaniard's corner blocked and Leon Osman blazed over all in the same passage of play.

Ferguson was less than happy and was soon prowling his technical area barking orders at the players.

O'Shea's response was a blistering drive from the left angle of the penalty area which grazed the outside of Howard's left-hand post.

Everton's pressure, albeit slightly less intense, continued while Nani was off the field having a cut lip tended with Cahill, Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines all failed to trouble the goalkeeper with half-chances.

There was always the danger their failure to capitalise on possession would leave the way open for United to nick a goal and they almost did in the 34th minute.

Tony Hibbert's foul on Giggs, despite winning the ball, saw Nani roll the free-kick to Scholes and his powerful drive took a big deflection off Cahill but Howard, diving in the opposite direction, somehow diverted the ball over with his foot.

Four minutes later the American goalkeeper stuck up a hand to palm away Giggs' close-range shot after United counter-attacked.

But the visitors were caught cold themselves when Patrice Evra missed an ambitious overhead-kick clearance to put Arteta charging through on goal and although he shot straight at Van der Sar, Leon Osman turned the rebound to Pienaar at the far post who rolled home.

Two minutes before half-time, however, Nani's cross was diverted home by Fletcher and Berbatov's volley almost put them ahead in added time.

It was apparent at the start of the second half Everton were in for a tougher test and it took just three minutes for that to become a reality.

Nani's corner from Berbatov's deflected shot was only half-cleared and when Scholes returned the ball to the Portugal international wide on the right he swung over a cross for an unmarked Vidic to head in from five yards.

It at least provoked a reaction from Everton and Pienaar's curling 20-yard shot was held by Van der Sar at the second attempt.

But United were where they like to be, in control and able to counter-attack, and one rapid foray forward saw Howard deny Nani low to his right.

He got nowhere near the next one in the 66th minute, which owed everything to the brilliance of Scholes and Berbatov.

The former England international's raking pass picked out the Bulgarian wide on the right and his first touch brilliantly took him clear of Sylvain Distin.

With acres of space to run into the languid striker took five or six paces before lashing an early shot into the bottom corner, taking Howard by surprise.

Baines curled a free-kick into the side-netting and Osman hit a woefully weak shot at Van der Sar as the hosts tried to find a way back but, as has been the case in their previous matches, they lacked a cutting edge.

However, in a dramatic finish Cahill headed home in the second minute of injury-time as he rose between defenders to meet Leighton Baines' cross.

And barely 60 seconds later, Arteta salvaged a point by drilling home a volley after Cahill had helped the ball back into his team-mate's path.

Source: Sky Sports
Date Published: 13 September 2010