Hernandez on Target as United Avoid Merseyside Blues

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Javier Hernandez scored the only goal as United clung on to claim three points at Goodison Park, in a hard-fought Premier League encounter. A week after being battered by City in the derby, United got back to winning ways, thanks to a smash and grab win. Everton-United matches are always feisty affairs and have produced their fair share of late drama in the last few seasons, with United registering their last win on the blue half of Merseyside four years ago.

Sir Alex had stressed during the week the importance of bouncing back immediately after last Sunday’s defeat and his line-up reflected his attitude. With Vidic making his first appearance since the opening game of the season, Evra and Evans kept their places in the starting XI, joined by Phil Jones to complete the back four. Park, Fletcher and Cleverley were part of a 4-men midfield including, somehow surprisingly, Welbeck on the left wing with Rooney and Hernandez up front. In truth United looked more like as if they were playing 4-1-4-1, with Fletcher as a screen in front of the back four, and Hernandez alone upfront, with Rooney the link between the Mexican and the midfielders.

Everton started on the front foot, Coleman firing at De Gea after 17 seconds to get the crowd right behind Moyes’ team. United responded quickly, Welbeck squaring the ball for Park after a brilliant run, only for the Korean to force a decent save from Tim Howard. 60 seconds later, Fellaini headed towards De Gea without troubling the United keeper. It was the start David Moyes had been, undoubtedly, looking for but United soon settled down, controlling possession and the tempo of the game. With 19 minutes gone, Hernandez showed once more why he’s such a lethal finisher. Welbeck played a clever first time pass to Evra, the United number 3 raced down the left wing, delivering a brilliant cross into the box, too good a chance to miss for Chicarito. Miss he did not, finishing off the move with a left foot touch to give United the lead.

Despite Everton’s best efforts, United controlled the game quite comfortably, threatening to create opportunities going forward, with Cleverley and Jones very much involved. The young midfielder is pivotal to United’s midfield, as he guarantees composure and produces the kind of runs that Anderson and Carrick very rarely indulge in. As for Jones, well, he might lack experience – who wouldn’t, at 19 years old – but some of his runs are simply amazing and today he was exceptional at the back too.

United committed what could have been a crucial mistake by letting Everton into the game, and were lucky to escape unscathed when Baines struck the bar with a wonderful free-kick 5 minutes from halftime.

Everton started the second half in the same attacking fashion, having replaced Bilyaletdinov with Barkley – the teenage midfielder reportedly on United’s radar – as United were happy to sit back. Rodwell tested De Gea after 52 minutes, as he struck a good effort from the edge of the box, but the Spaniard calmly fisted it away.

United’s afternoon seemed to take the wrong turn when Cleverley had to be replaced by Nani after 55 minutes, after what it appeared to be a problem with his left ankle. United would hope that this is nothing serious, as the talented midfielder is definitely Fergie’s first choice in midfield. With Nani coming on, Park shifted into a central midfield position, which did nothing to stop Everton going forward, although the Korean produced a solid shift.

United’s best chance of the second half came from a counter attack, with Welbeck forcing a good save from Howard, after a clever ball from Hernandez. That was to be Chicarito’s last contribution to the game, as he made way for Berbatov for the last 25 minutes. With United inviting Everton forward, the choice of Berbatov as isolated centre forward made perfect sense, as the Bulgarian’s first touch is better than Hernandez’.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Fergie replaced Welbeck with Valencia, while Moyes introduced Velios for Osman, which meant that Everton were going down route one.

Despite an array of balls into the box and 6 minutes of added time, United held on, with the only nervy moment coming as Gueye appealed for a penalty after being put under pressure by Evra.

Definitely not a swashbuckling performance, but United can be happy with the way they responded on a difficult ground such as this, and Fergie will no doubt be delighted with the first clean sheet since the game against Norwich. A win was essential to keep City under pressure and, with Chelsea losing ground, this could be a really good weekend for United. The focus now switch to the Champions League, where three points at home next Wednesday are a must.

Daniele

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6 Comments

  1. Nice result, It is clear to see most players lack of confident which is understandable. There is problem to connect passing but defending as an unit worked quite well. Everton work really hard pressing all over the pitch, no wonder United couldn’t win Goodison Park for three years. Step in right direction, I think players can do better in next game at passing the ball.

  2. So far we have gained 3 pts over last year’s tough away games and we just beat Everton for first time in 3 years. That’s 5 pts gained over last season. Then we lost 3 to City. So we’re up 2 pts over last season.

    Let’s keep rolling along.

    • glass is half full eh. issue is not the points, issue is we are playing bad football and winning undeservedly. if you see the game and the stats for yesterday, Everton deserved something out of the game. we were once again very lucky to get 3 points. we need to find the right consistent squad which can start winning with domination. at least show the hunger to start winning with domintation

      • gotta earn my OPTI tag 😀

        Seriously though. Tough games don’t require pretty football. How much does 8-2 win over Arsenal matter after derby thrashing? Nothing! 3 pts!

  3. I have to say, evra wasn’t bad yesterday, more of that please. He was where he is supposed to be most of the time and that is at the left back position defending.
    It’s understandable that the team are tentative about going forward and are more concerned about defence. Last week was a real eye opener.It’s clear that fergie tore them a new one as every player out there bar fletcher was concerned about loosing the ball and were very careful not to do anything extravagant less they loss the ball and everton score from their mistake.
    I guess we are going back to basics, defend well, build up a strong defence unit and then slowly move forward from there.
    One more point, I guess the old adage the more things change the more they remain the same, hargo out, cleverly in. for the past few years, Hargo was said to be the solution to all our midfield problems but he was always injured and was never on the pitch to show us what he could do, now cleverly has been touted as the solution to all our midfield problems but is always injured and never on the pitch to show us…

  4. We aren’t playing well at the moment, but the main aim after the derby was always gonna be 3 pts. We got them, didn’t set the world alight in doing so (although we weren’t so bad in the 1st half) but let’s move on. Winning ugly is what separates championship-winning teams from the others. I’d love as much as anybody else to see us back to hammering teams 5-0 and 8-2 week in, week out but it’ll take sometime. I think that, despite it being against his principles, Fergie will spend in January. He knows that we need reinforcements in midfield and with Inter languishing 4th from bottom in Serie A, it seems plausible that we’ll make a move for Snejider once more.
    Also, one thing that has gone unnoticed…last year we won the league and got hammered by the media for winning only 5 games away, this season we’ve already won 3 on the road.

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