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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
10 February 2013
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 75525
R. Giggs 13'
R. van Persie 45'+
I've been Tom J Doyle (@TomJDoyle), and thanks for joining us at Goal.com for the LIVE commentary of Manchester United 2-0 Everton. Stick with us for all the match reaction, player ratings and more, and enjoy the rest of your evenings - Sir Alex Ferguson surely will.
This result means United go 12 points clear of champions Manchester City - as last season showed us, the race isn't over until it's mathematically certain, but it'd take a brave - or foolish - person to bet against Ferguson's men making it title No. 20 now.
THat's it! Manchester United get the three points in what turned out to be a fairly routine 2-0 victory against a disjointed Everton side. Ryan Giggs opened the scoring with a clever finish after 13 minutes, and then Robin van Persie made the lead secure after beating the offside trap on the stroke of half-time.
90' + 1'
90 seconds left, and victory is all but certain for the hosts. It's been a dull second half but Ferguson will have taken this scoreline beforehand.
Rooney has to get to the ball all to prevent Heitinga from getting an effort in with a minute to go. And Vidic meets Baines' corner yet again - he's been so important today.
Three minutes to go plus injury time and United are close to a massive 12-point lead in the title race - and Giggs is still haring around the pitch!
Yellow Card Marouane Fellaini
Now Fellaini hacks Cleverley for no apparent reason and gets a booking for his troubles. Will he last the game out at this rate?
Fellaini gives away a free kick on Van Persie and the big forward looks exasperated. He's struggled to get into the game today, not helped at all by poor support from his team-mates in this second half.
Smalling comes on and almost gifts Everton a goal with a pathetic flick handing possession to Jelavic, whose low drive is tipped out by De Gea. What an introduction that would've been from the United man!
Van Persie goes close! The striker finds Giggs' run over his shoulder and the Welshman tees him up in the area, only for the 29-year-old to drag his left-footed effort wide from 16 yards. That's poor from such a talented player.
Baines shows some real drive to get down the left and into the box, but his cut-back is blocked by more fine positioning from Carrick.
Rafael sees Van Persie free in the box but like so many crosses in this game, the full-back's is poor and it's straight out of play. The home crowd will be happy enough with a 12-point lead over City, but it's been a really poor second half.
Nice flicks here from Giggs, Van Persie and Rooney but the Welshman tries a back-heel and gives away possession cheaply - Osman wastes the cross though. He really should know better than to give away the ball in his own half so easily.
Save for that offside chance just now Everton haven't troubled De Gea, which will be hugely frustrating for David Moyes. Still, there's 15 minutes left for a comeback.
Jelavic is through and tests De Gea with a low shot which the keeper saves with his right leg. The striker is given offside, but replays show he was well on - a let-off for the hosts.
Another corner to United as Rafael gets forward and looks for a return from Giggs, but the ball is blocked out. The young Brazilian right-back has been in fine form today.
Carrick does well to get back here and toe-poke Baines' cross away from an onrushing Osman, who you'd have fancied to score from 20 yards. Now if Gareth Barry had done that yesterday instead of finishing into his own net...
What a save from Howard! Cleverley thinks he's scored with a wonderful volley from 20 yards but the American keeper gets his fingertips to the ball to tip it over the bar. Superb stuff, and the game's livened up a bit!
How has this not ended up in the net?! Evans has about four chances in seven seconds but can't squeeze the ball in for United. Howard makes a fine stop from a header and then Jelavic clears off the line...
Fellaini is pressured into dribbling backwards further into his own half and has to win a throw-in off of Valencia's legs. That sums up his half so far, as he's struggled for service and is having to come and find the ball deeper.
It's been a subdued opening to the second half but United are squeezing the life out of this game, which is just the way Ferguson will want it. Everton are just not offering the same type of threat as they did ion the first half.
United are frustrated here as Giggs is through from a quick free kick, but the referee calls play back due the a moving ball. Probably the right call there.
I said Jones looked a little injured at the restart and he lasts just 10 minutes before he is replaced by Michael Carrick. Anichebe looks like he's got injury troubles too and Jelavic gets his chance to shine at Old Trafford once more.
Again Giggs charges down Howard and forces the keeper into conceding a throw-in and United win back possession. Superb work from the midfielder, as it allows his side to eat up the clock with just a little bit of effort.
Phil Neville gets down the right wing on his return to Old Trafford but as with Jones, he just punts it out over the goal. Not good at all from the former United player.
Jones is in a good position to cross after cheeky wing play from Rafael but the England player punts it out disappointingly for a goal kick. The second half hasn't quite burst in to life yet, but Ferguson will want his players to mark their mark early ans avoid a repeat of last year.
Fellaini gives us another reminder of his presence here as he leaps to meet Howard's long goal kick. The ball falls to Anichebe but there's no immediate danger. That is what he offers though - an unrivaled aerial threat.
We're back underway at Old Trafford. Jones doesn't seem to be moving to freely for United and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come off at some stage.
So with United two goals to the good, can David Moyes' side stage another memorable comeback like last year? They've got the talent, and with Nikica Jelavic on the bench they have options, but you get the feeling it'd have to be a really special second 45 minutes to stop the Red Devils on this form.
That's the half-time whislte, and Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted with that late goal after Everton began to grow in confidence following Ryan Giggs' opener. In many ways Van Persie has had a frustrating half, but he's got a goal and an assist, and players like him win you trophies. 2-0 to United, and if it stays like this they're going 12 points clear.
45' + 1'
45' + 1'
Goal Robin van Persie
45' + 1'
VAN PERSIE SCORES!!! This time the striker does get his goal after going around Howard following a cute through-ball from Rafael to break the offside trap high up the pitch. Heitinga got to the ball on the line but it still ends up in the corner of the net - quite what the Everton back line were doing that high up remains to be seen, but that's a vital two-goal cushion for the hosts.
United are finishing the half strongly with Giggs and Evra linking well on the left, but the France left-back's cross only finds Howard.
Van Persie almost has a chance to make it two, but the ball skids out from underneath his boot after Heitinga got a toe to Rooney's low pass across the six-yard line from the left.
De Gea is punching everything that moves here. He gets a really strong fist on the first ball into the area, but his second attempt is less convincing and only falls to Osman, who spoons a volley wide with the keeper well away from his line.
Speaking of Van Persie, the striker hasn't had a great half by his - or anybody's - standards. He's struggled on the ball and his corners have been poor, but when you're chasing titles all you need is one moment of skill to unlock a game.
Yellow Card Kevin Mirallas
Ooh, that's not a pretty challenge from Mirallas and he gets a deserved yellow for a crude lunge on Cleverley. He still looks annoyed with himself about the earlier chance, but top players forget their mistakes and move on as Van Persie showed us earlier.
You wouldn't have thought Ryan Giggs was 39 by the way he's chasing down every ball today. He may not start every game but he's looking bang on form today and full of energy.
Everton go close! Mirallas is away down the right and Anichebe is free in the centre, but the winger's pass isn't good enough and Rafael eventually gets back to clear while under pressure. That's a huge chance for the visitors, but the final ball really let them down there.
It's Gibson who swings the cross in, but he doesn't find a team-mate and United regain possession. Something tells me Baines will be taking the next one after that poor ball.
Pienaar turns well and Giggs trips him to concede a free kick from 30 yards. Now then, will Baines have a go at goal?
Anichebe gets himself into trouble and dribbles the ball out of play with Vidic hot on his tail, much to the delight of the home fans. The Serbian centre-back has been superb so far, but Everton have settled well after conceding early on.
Fellaini gets his head to the ball and it's a scramble, but the ball is away after a superb tackle from Vidic. Gibson lines up a trademark pikedriver but Van Persie does well to get in the way and the danger is cleared.
Good save by De Gea! The Spanish keeper tips Osman's fine 25-yard half-volley around the post after a great flick from Pienaar to set up the England midfielder. Lovely play all round there.
Anichebe is furious as he wants a free kick after going down in a tussle with Vidic, but no foul is given. Expect a few more of those battles as the game wears on.
Leon Osman gets his toe on the ball here but his volley is far too weak to trouble De Gea. Again though the danger came from Mirallas twisting and turning Evra on the left - that could be a key battle today.
Mirallas is doing well doewn the right and wins another corner off of Evra, but Vidic powers the corner away with a giant header. Still, Baines' deliveries have been superb so far and he'll find an Everton head at some point.
Jones thrashes an effort wide from 20 yards with his left foot, but it was fine build-up play beforehand by Giggs, Valencia and Rooney. Everton will have to concentrate to stay in this one, but as we saw last season, they are always a threat.
Giggs has now scored in each of the 23 seasons with the club - that is truly an outstanding record, and the winger fully deserves that honour.
Giggs almost lets in the Toffees here after trying to dribble his way out of the left-back position, but Kevin Mirallas' cross evades his team-mates and Jones clears the danger.
Assist Robin van Persie
Goal Ryan Giggs
UNITED LEAD!!! Ryan Giggs opens the scoring for the hosts with a clever finish after great work by Van Persie to break away from Heitinga in the area. The striker teed up the Welshman who sent Howard the wrong way and rolled in a 12-yard effort off of the keeper's left-hand post, with the ball finally spinning into the net after an anxious second or so.
Oh Robin, how have you missed?! United really should be ahead but Van Persie has somehow missed an open goal. De Gea launched a kick to Rafael who found Rooney, and after the Dutchman picked up his strike partner's pass and went round Howard it all seemed so simple - but he's scuffed a right-footed shot into the side-netting.
Jones is tracking Fellaini very closely here - presumably Ferguson will want his young defender/midfielder/whichever position is free to get tight and put pressure on the big Belgium international
This is a half-chance for the visitors as the Leighton Baines' corner is only partially cleared and Pienaar's blasted effort from 16 yards is well blocked by Evans.
Scratch that - Everton now have a corner after good work from Fellaini and Pienaar to release Darron Gibson on the wing.
Rooney has the first shot of the match but it's a poor effort as he tries to bend the ball in from 25 yards, and it's nowhere near Howard's goal. The hosts are doing all the early work though.
Former United keeper Tim Howard is not looking comfortable here as he elects to punch Rooney's routine free kick, and then gets just enough on a follow-up cross by Cleverley to avert more danger.
United are quick out of the blocks here and Rooney wins a free kick just on the left of the Everton area...
We're underway at Old Trafford and Anichebe flicks a long punt from Heitinga straight through to David de Gea. Get used to seeing a few more of those today.
The teams are out and the crowd are passing along a giant banner with a number the 'Busby Babes' with the words "We'll never die" on it. A great tribute there.
News just coming through is that Sylvain Distin has up an injury during the warm-up, so John Heitinga comes in for the visitors. That's a headache Moyes doesn't need less than 10 minutes before kick-off...
Television images show United fans singing 'Flowers of Manchester' outside the ground in memory of those who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster 55 years ago. It's been an emotional week at Old Trafford, but a win here would be the perfect tonic for the club.
Moyes meanwhile will be looking for a performance similar to his side's impressive 4-4 draw in the corresponding fixture last season. While Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans will be prepared for the aerial threat of Victor Anichebe and Marouance Fellaini, it's another thing entirely to keep them out once that whistle blows.
Ferguson has gone with a strong line-up despite the upcoming Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday; Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney start up front, although it's a young central midfield with Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley linking up.
Everton starting XI: Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Mirallas, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar; Fellaini; Anichebe. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Jelavic, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Stones.
The team news is in... Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Cleverley, Giggs; Rooney, Van Persie. Subs: Amos, Anderson, Smalling, Chicharito, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck.
With Manchester City falling to a shock 3-1 defeat at Southampton yesterday, Sir Alex Ferguson's men could go 12 points clear of the champions with a win today. David Moyes meanwhile will be desperate for a win to keep up his side's hopes of a top four finish.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of Manchester United vs Everton at Old Trafford. I'm Tom J Doyle (TomJDoyle), and I'll be with you every step of the day in what could be a pivotal match in deciding the destination of the Premier League title.
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