Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Everton
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Sunday, 3 April 2016
Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Manchester United kept alive their top four pursuit by grinding out a narrow 1-0 victory over Everton at Old Trafford.
Anthony Martial scored the only goal of the game within the opening exchanges of the second half, converting a fine team move to send the home crowd into jubilation.
This win follows on from the Manchester derby victory two weeks ago, as United kept the pressure on their neighbours by closing the gap back to one point.
Early on, Marcos Rojo saw a shot blocked from a low corner routine, as a neat give-and-go between Jesse Lingard and Martial saw the latter fire just wide of the left-hand post.
Leighton Baines saw a free-kick deflect off the wall and behind for a corner, as Romelu Lukaku’s looping header dropped wide without troubling.
Martial and Lingard saw shots blocked, as half-time drew to a close a quiet half in terms of chances but entertaining one nonetheless.
Everton, boasting just one defeat on the road all season before today, began the second half on the front foot, with Baines playing the ball into the feet of Lukaku, whose shot on the turn deflected behind off Daley Blind.
Then came the goal as Morgan Schneiderlin’s long diagonal pass found Juan Mata on the right, who held the ball up before passing to Marcus Rashford, whose neat flick set substitute Timothy Fosu-Mensah with the chance to deliver, and his low cross to the back post found Martial, whose first time finish found its way in off of the right boot of goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Looking for an instant response, Toffees captain Phil Jagielka crashed a header against the crossbar from Gerard Deulofeu’s corner, as the former was denied once more, this time seeing a close range effort saved by David De Gea after United failed to deal with Tom Cleverley’s corner.
Piling the pressure on in the hunt for an equaliser, Baines’ short free-kick saw Cleverley have a shot blocked, as Fosu-Mensah did brilliantly to clear a dangerous low cross from Seamus Coleman.
United held out for a crucial three points, which sees them leapfrog West Ham United into fifth place after the Hammers dropped points on Saturday, with eyes on Manchester City with the gap reduced to one point.
Needing an answer to City’s comfortable victory, Louis van Gaal’s side responded against one of the form teams away from home.
Despite looking vulnerable from set pieces, United dealt with the threat of Everton well, especially the clinical and deadly Lukaku.
Resolute defending like this will be needed once more, as United take on Tottenham Hotspur this time next week, with a fourth Sunday 4pm kick-off on the bounce if you exclude the international break.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind (Valencia 82), Rojo (Fosu-Mensah 46); Carrick (Herrera 58), Schneiderlin, Mata, Lingard, Martial; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Young, Valencia, Herrera, Fellaini, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Everton: Robles; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; McCarthy, Cleverley; Deulofeu (Mirallas 63), Barkley (Niasse 87), Lennon; Lukaku.
Subs: Howard, Ovideo, Funes Mori, Besic, Mirallas, Kone, Niasse.
Manager: Roberto Martinez