By Mark Young
Manchester United 4 (Rooney 40,70, Welbeck 56, Nani 60)
Everton 4 (Jelavic 33, 82, Fellaini 66, Pienaar 84)
Sir Alex Ferguson has said that both Manchester United and Manchester City will drop points in the final games in the run in and said points are starting to drop as Everton came away from Old Trafford with a point, scoring four goals against the champions.
A few weeks ago there were chants of “City’s cracking up” from the United faithful but today, Ferguson’s men could be accused of doing just that after conceding two, two goal advantages in the second half.
Steven Pienaar scored what could prove to be Manchester City’s most important goal of the season, six minutes from time to finish the clash four goals apiece in a crazy 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
It was a slow start from the home side as Everton had three half chances early on but it wasn’t until Nikica Jelavic netted with a brilliant header from a deep Tony Hibbert cross that United seemed to wake up.
Paul Scholes had a couple of long-range efforts either side of the goal as United started to turn the screw.
Five minutes before half time, Nani, in for the much criticised Ashley Young provided a right footed cross from the left. Wayne Rooney rose above Phil Neville to nod past Tim Howard to put the Red Devil’s on level terms before half time.
United came out after half time with a lot more purpose in their play and looking really positive but didn’t create too much until the 56th minute.
Nani cut inside from the left, as he done well all afternoon to feed the United attackers in the area. It was blocked but Everton couldn’t clear. Nani won a resulting header for the ball to end up at Danny Welbeck’s feet. He sold Heitinga on the edge of the box and stroked the ball into Howard’s top left corner to put United ahead for the first time in the match.
It wasn’t long after that before United grabbed what seemed an unassailable two-goal lead. Beautiful build up play between Nani, Carrick and Welbeck, who flicked onto Nani in the area to dink over Tim Howard in what was a beautiful move to send Old Trafford into raptures.
The goal madness continued six minutes later as Everton continued pushing. Tony Hibbert nicked his second assist of the day as he met a pass from James McFadden. Fellaini met the stalwart’s cross with a great volley into the bottom left hand corner of David De Gea’s net. Game on.
It was Everton who were pushing more now as Steven Pienaar looked for an equaliser. Fellaini laid the ball off to the South African who shot but United’s number one saved his strike.
It was United who attacked next. Valencia, just inside his own half passed the ball towards Welbeck. He stepped over the ball and Rooney met the ball. He in turn, laid the ball off to his strike partner who once again returned the favour for Rooney to slot his second against his old club and the two-goal lead was restored once more.
Time was ticking and with ten minutes remaining Rafael sent a cross in for the right that missed Welbeck and Nani but found United captain, Patrice Evra. The Frenchman hit the post and how that opportunity would seem oh so vital moments later.
Two minutes later, Phil Neville dinked a ball towards Felaini in the United box. The afro haired Belgian took the concentration of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans with neither of them able to clear. The ball fell to Jelavic who slotted a shot into the opposite corner from which his striker partner for the day volleyed into earlier.
Tim Cahill came on for Sylvain Distin as Everton were going for the equaliser but it was the brilliant Belgian who had a hand in a dramatic equaliser. Neville, now playing at left back, passed into the area to Felaini, he knocked the ball to Pienaar, just outside the six-yard box to score.
United pushed for the ninth goal of the game sending on Javier Hernandez for Antonio Valencia. Jonny Evans met a Nani cross as the clock ticked over 90 but the ball was behind him and the sent the chance over.
The dramatic finish almost got even more dramatic as in the final minute of added on time the ball fell to Ferdinand. The centre back struck a fantastic left foot shot toward goal but former Untied goalkeeper Tim Howard made himself a hero.
United’s lead at the top has been whittled down to three points setting up a potential title deciding clash at the Etihad next Monday.
1. DE GEA
Could do nothing with any of the goals as his defence let him down. 6/10
Energetic down the right as always. Cross should have been converted by Evra. 5/10
Poor defensive show, Felaini didn’t let him and Ferdinand rest. 5/10
Late, left footed effort saved but it shouldn’t have come to that. 5/10
Hit the post at 4-2, proved to be vital. Positionally poor at times. 5/10
Failed to stamp his mark on the game and was marshalled well by Distin. 6/10
Couple of shots from range in opening, Everton midfield kept pressure on him. Subbed. 6/10
Passing radar off target early on and was ruffled by hard working Everton midfield. 6/10
Man of the match display, two assists and a great goal. 9/10
Brace against former club was not enough. 8/10
Superb performance from the young striker with the pick of the goals. He linked well, worked hard and brilliantly took his opportunity to net his 12th goal of the season. 9/10
Came on for Scholes at 4-4. N/A
Not enough time to make an impact when replacing Valencia on the 88th minute. N/A
Subs not used:
Amos, Giggs, Smalling, Park, Young
Nothing he could do about any of the goals but a fantastic last minute save to deny Ferdinand. 7/10
Two wonderful crosses for the first two Everton goals. 7/10
Couldn’t deal with the pace and movement of Ronney, Welbeck and Nani. 5/10
Was at fault for Welbeck’s goal, allowed too much space. 5/10
Booked on half time, harsh but kept Valencia quiet all afternoon. 7/10
Nippy, hard working and always on the front foot. Subbed in second half after clash of heads with Evra. 6/10
Was at fault for Rooney’s first goal but helped pull his team back into the game. 7/10
Pass to Hibbert lead to second goal. Hard working display at his old club. 6/10
Always running and covers a lot of ground. Scored the vital equaliser. 7/10
Close to Man of the match performance. Making a nuisance of himself and scored a great volley. 9/10
A brace for the impressive frontman as his partnership with Felaini blossomed at Old Trafford. 9/10
Quiet when he came on for Osman but was part in the build up to Felaini’s strike. 5/10
Replaced Distin late on, Neville went to left back. N/A
Subs not used:
Mucha, Stracqualursi, Gueye, Barkley, Anichebe.
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