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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
April 23, 2011
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: P. Walton
• Attendance: 75300
J. Hernández 84'
Everton, meanwhile, despite their brilliant defensive display, miss the chance to leapfrog Liverpool and stay in seventh place. Liverpool kick off against Birmingham in just under 20 minutes, and a win for Dalglish's side could end any chance of European football for Moyes' charges this season.
So, Man United beat Everton 1-0 thanks to, arguably, the best summer signing out of the entire division, Javier Hernandez, scoring his 19th goal of the season (12th in the league) to take them nine points clear at the top. Chelsea play West Ham in the later kick-off.
90' + 6'
And that, as they say, is that! Fergie has seen enough and so has the referee.
90' + 5'
Whistles start to hound the referee as we enter the final minute. United have the ball...
90' + 2'
United taking care of business here, just like the Mafia do with control and patience.
Into stoppage time now and there will be five minutes of it. Has no-one told the fourth official that United have scored already?
Everton are now the team being frustrated (there's that word again) by the opposite defence as Neville sends a gret ball to the far post that Hibbert heads back towards the edge of the area under pressure from Ferdinand. Rodwell is there for a first time volley as United defenders crowd him, but it flies way over the crossbar.
Into the closing stages now and Everton look shattered, emotionally and physically. The pace of the game has, unsurprisingly, calmed down now. Fergie shouting from the touchline not to take their foot off the gas too much though.
Really tough on Howard that one, his first mistake all day as he took the wrong position to block the effort as the header sneaked inside his near post. Even tougher on the sublime Everton defence. Cue "hallmark of champions" phrase to be banded about later today.
Assist Antonio Valencia
Goal Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
1-0 UNITED!! Finally the home side make the breakthrough! After chance after chance this one pays off when Valencia stands up another fine cross towards the far post again and Hernandez is there again, but he makes no mistake this time and heads home, just inside the post, from two yards.
Yellow Card Tim Howard
Great save from Howard! Giggs works it down the left and finds Valencia inside the area, he tries a first time shot that hits HIbbert and falls straight back to him but this time the winger finds space and lifts a glorious cross towards the far post that Hernandez does equally well to get above and power a header back towards the far post but Howard is more than a match to it and tips it over for a corner. Best save of the match by far.
Hernandez wins a freekick after being felled by Jagielka. Giggs steps up and curls a great effort from 30 yards that Howard does well to tip over the bar.
Owen shows the benefits of fresh legs to work his way into the area for his shot rebounds off an Everton defender and falls to Anderson, whose shot of his own is sailing wide before hitting Distin. Everton survive.
Gibson makes way for the evergreen Ryan Giggs for United as the previously impressive Magaye Gueye comes on for Coleman.
Owen hits the post! Rooney disposses Coleman before laying it off for Evra to send a great ball into the box that Everton clear. United come straight back with another cross with Valencia that Owen does extremely well to get on the end of and hits the post from a mere six yards.
Apologies for using the word 'frustrate', and all its variables, so much but it sums up the United attitude perfectly. I would get a thesaurus but this game won't allow me a breather to do so.
The resulting corner is easily cleared by United but Hibbert stands tall in the face of the charging Rooney as this brilliant defensive display continues to frustrate the hosts.
Half chance for Everton, but Rodwell does his best with it as his smart low drive across Van der Sar from the edge of the area skims just past the wrong side of the post.
Everton go straight back up midfield, their attacking intent much more obvious in this half, with Evans having to make a brave header to divert Anichebe's cross away from danger.
Phil Neville is caught in possession just inside his area by Rooney and the striker immediately tries to find Hernandez with a through ball but whose there to cut it out? Distin of course.
Anderson has a strop on the pitch when his shot is not deemed to have been deflected as the referee signals for a goal kick. The midfielder then falls over. Amusing.
Or that, Hernandez. Rooney with great vision to find the striker on the edge of the area but he can't control the ball and it rolls out for a goal kick.
Nani departs in place of Michael Owen, who gets a significally better reception than he did at St James' Park in midweek. United going 4-3-3 now with Rooney playing further wide on the left.
More clinical passing needed in the final third for Everton, and you are not going to achieve that like that Valenica. The winger finds himself in a good position out on the right but he cross is too deep for everyone and flies straight out of the corner. The Old Trafford faithful are getting increasing anxious.
United growing with confidence, and frustration, as we enter the final 30 minutes as Rooney storms through the middle and finds Hernandez free on the right side of the penalty area. The Mexican controls it and tries to find Gibson on the opposite post but Distin clears the cross with the sliding challenge.
O'Shea has been replaced by Patrice Evra with the former walking straight down the tunnel with his sock down on his left leg. Possible knock. Confirmation if/when we get it.
...and break they do. Infact, a decent shout for a penalty as the newly introduced Anichebe skips down the flank and inside Ferdinand and into the area but with the ball running out of range of his touch Ferdinand bundles him over. The referee takes a look and waves play on but replays show that Everton could count themselves a tad unlucky not to at least be given more of a thought by the ref.
Yellow Card Tim Cahill
Yellow Card Anderson
Rooney collects a smart pass from Anderson out on the right flank, passes it short to Nani who cuts inside and spots Hernandez lurking inside the area but his low pass is cut out again by an Everton defender, this time Distin. Everton break...
More brilliance from the Everton defence as Valencia skips forward into the final third and tries to find the galloping Rooney as he darts into the area but the through ball is cut out by a sliding clearance from Jagielka. Great stuff.
And that's Everton's second shot of the afternoon as Jagielka and Cahill combine well on the edge of the United area to set up Rodwell for an effort from the edge of the D, unfortunately the youngster is leaning too far back when he connects with the ball and it sails high and wide.
Valencia does well down the left flank and sets up Fabio to cross it into the "danger zone" but the Everton defence continues to stand tall and strong and clears the danger.
Everton starting the second half brighter than they did the first, keeping possession and pressing United.
Substition at half-time for Everton, Beckford comes off for birthday boy (23) Victor Anichebe. Bit harsh on Beckford, he barely had a chance to impress. And Bilyaletdinov comes off for Tim Cahill.
And we are back underway! Everton kick us off. It's currently 0-0, which would not please either side as they race for the title and Europe respectively.
So that's half-time then. Man United 0-0 Everton as it stands. The hosts will be frustrated not to have gone ahead with their 11 attempts on goal and their seven corners to Everton's one attempts on goal and zero corners. However, they can't blame themselves as the away side's defence has been brilliant at times and must take some credit.
And we have a glimmer of a chance for a breakthrough just before the break as Rooney and Valencia counter and bomb upfield but, you've guessed, the Everton defence snuff that out and send Valencia out wide. The ref has seen enough. That's the end of the first half.
Here come United again as Rooney is yet again denied by the stern Everton defence, this time by Jagielka. We will have one minute of added time at the end of the half.
Well, after those two chances, Howard nearly gifted United the breakthrough as he rushes out of his goal to try and collect a seemingly overhit pass but then realises that Rooney is more than capable of getting there first so has to back-track quickly. Luckily, Hibbert does fantastically well to block Rooney's attempted pass to Valencia. Chance gone.
Ok, THAT really should be 1-0. Rooney bombs down the right flank with Hernandez screaming for the low cross. Rooney waits, and waits, and waits, gets to the touchline, tries to cut it back for the Mexican and Distin cuts it out.
That really should be 1-0. Valencia does extremely well down the right flank, strolling past Hibbert as if he wasn't there and crossing low for Nani is surely control and fire into the net... well that's what he tried but his shot hit the felled Hernandez on the floor and deflects wide for a goal kick. Ridiculous.
Two corners in quick succession for United that Nani takes and Rodwell clears. Surely only a matter of time for the hosts?
Fabio is fine by the way, just realised I hadn't updated that situation. He was back on soon after.
Another great effort from Hernandez as he skips onto Rooney's clever pass and tries a first-time shot towards the Everton goal inside the area, but Howard is equally impressive and does well to palm the ball away.
You might be wondering what Beckford is doing as I haven't mentioned him yet... well, I only mention players who have touched the ball so... yeah. There's your answer. Frustrated isn't the word.
Gibson's (remember him?) chance to have a shot now as Nani tees him up for an effort 25-yards out (his preferred distance from memory), but this time it sails high and wide and not so... yeah you know.
He's a right little gem that Hernandez isn't he? Anderson, who is enjoying a fine game so far, sends a superb ball through to the Mexican. He controls with ease, darts into the area and tests Howard down low at the near post, that the goalkeeper does well to send out for a corner.
Fabio has taken a knock here and is being looked at by the United physio. Twin brother Rafael is warming up on the touchline...
And they way this game is going, you can see this being United's 16th home win of the season as they are not allowing Everton any room or time to get any attacking mometum as they are dispossed as they enter United half by Fabio, who storms forward and sends a ball over to the other flank for Valencia, but Howard plucks it out of the air.
It's all go-go-go at Old Trafford, eh? Interestingly, if United win their final three home games (including this one) they will equal the Premier League home record for a season of 18 wins and 1 draw out of 19 games that Chelsea achieved back in 2005-06.
Oooh, scrappy. Its heart-in-mouth time for those associated with Everton as the defence doesn't deal with Nani's delivery straight away and a slight scramble ensues before the experienced head of Distin clears with aplomb.
Another corner for United as this time Valencia's cross is deflected behind by Baines...
The corner is sent in by Nani, O'Shea jumps highest but his header sails harmlessly over the bar.
Hmm... you've seen those given before, especially at Old Trafford. An eager Anderson sends a low ball through to O'Shea on the right flank, and the Republic of Ireland international hits a first time cross into the area that seems to hit Hibbert on the outstretched arm. First glance was suspect, replays confirmed it. The referee gives a corner.
Wasteful from Nani there. Hernandez and Rooney combine well to hold off the Everton defence before the latter plays in Nani on the blindside. The winger darts into the area, dazzles few with some shaking of the hips before cutting inside and firing weak and high at Howard that the American can easily save.
Baines does, of course, whip in a great delivery but it somehow misses any Everton player and Ferdinand gets a strong head on it to clear the danger.
Another chance for Baines perhaps now as Fabio takes out Osman around 25 yards out near the left touchline...
Brilliant from Distin there. Fabio nearly deceives the Everton defence with a clever throw in but the Everton man intercepts a long pass to Rooney vitally.
Everton's first real chance here. Baines, who has a delicious left-foot, stands over this freekick, around 30 yards out, he sends it in... but United clear and fling it straight back up the pitch towards Rooney. Howard collects.
Freekick to United as Nani is clattered into by Hibbert, freekick around 30 yards out... hold on, deja vu? (see 2 mins). Anyways, same outcome. Nani sends it in. Everton clear.
Valencia storms down the right wing and flings a cross straight over the Everton box before Nani momentarily collects possession before losing it almost immediately.
Lots of early possession for United here. Everton more-or-less chasing shadows at the moment.
Early chance for United as Nani wins a freekick around 30 yards out after Hibbert clatters into him. The Portuguese winger steps up, sends it in but it's easily cleared.
And Man United kick us off here! The game is underway!
Everton meanwhile are gunning for a Europa League place, and for a team who were early candidates for relegation after an atrocious start to the campaign, that is some achievement. Three points today will see them leapfrog rivals Liverpool into sixth place, possibly only until 5pm though as said team play Birmingham at 3pm. Also, Everton haven't beaten United since the opening month of the Premier League, back in August 1992. So... y'know... not looking likely.
So who exactly is left in the title race? Depends on who you listen to it's just Man Utd, or it's United and Chelsea, or it's United and Arsenal or it's all three. One thing everyone agrees on is that this title is United's to lose.
Meanwhile, Everton bring in two of their most valuable and promising assets, Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell.
Sitting six points clear at the top of the table and with an all-important Champions League semi-final against Schalke coming up on Tuesday, Sir Alex has made five changes to the side who drew 0-0 with Newcastle. Rio Ferdinand and Antonio Valencia come back along with Fabio, Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans.
Everton (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Neville, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov, Osman; Beckford. Subs: Mucha, Cahill, Gueye, Vellios, Anichebe, Mustafi, Duffy.
Man Utd (4-4-2): Van der Sar; O'Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Fabio Da Silva; Valencia, Gibson, Anderson, Nani; Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: Kuszczak, Evra, Brown, Owen, Giggs, Carrick, Rafael Da Silva.
First things first, those line-ups...
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Premier League clash between Manchester United and Everton from Old Trafford. My name is Alex Young and I will be taking you through the game's ups and downs.
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