Manchester United made it back to back wins for the first time this season with a 2-1 victory over Everton at Old Trafford. Goals from Angel DiMaria and Radamel Falcao either side of Steven Naismith’s equaliser handed Louis Van Gaal all three points as they climb to fourth in the table. An immense performance from David De Gea saw the keeper save a Leighton Baines penalty and produce two breathtaking saves to deny Everton at the death.
Antonio Valencia and Juan Mata came in for the injured Ander Herrera and suspended Wayne Rooney in the only changes from the side that beat West Ham last weekend. Robin Van Persie was handed the captains armband in Rooney’s absence. Paddy McNair retained his place in defence and was tasked with patrolling Romelu Lukaku. Everton were comfortable in possession in midfield throughout the first half without creating any real openings going forward. Falcao had the first sight of goal, his downward header easily saved by Howard after good work down the left from Luke Shaw. More good play down the Everton right saw Van Persie fire Di Maria’s cross over the bar having drifted in front of John Stones. After Phil Jagielka cut out Rafael’s cross, Juan Mata’s perfectly weighted cut back was curled home by DiMaria, his third goal in five games. It wasn’t long before DiMaria threatened again, his deflected free kick forcing a save from Howard. For all Everton’s possession they had to wait until the 40th minute for their first sight of goal, Baines’ long ball finding Lukaku, who having got behind McNair, couldn’t keep his effort on target. In the second minute of added time, Tony Hibbert advanced into the penalty area and was felled by Luke Shaw; penalty. Baines stepped up but was denied by DeGea who guessed the right way and got a strong left hand to the shot. That’s was the first penalty missed by Baines in the Premier League but wasn’t the last we’d hear from DeGea.
United continued to find joy down the left as DiMaria and then Shaw both provided for Falcao, the Columbian twice seeing his efforts deflected behind for corners. Baines however, didn’t have to wait long to appease his boss for the missed penalty. Having taken a quick free kick, and playing a one –two with Gareth Barry, his stunning cross found the head of Steven Naismith who made no mistake in drawing the sides level. Another deadly Baines corner almost had Everton ahead, Jagielka’s header cleared off the line by Falcao on the back post. The loan signing from Monaco then proved decisive at the other end, reacting quickest to DiMaria’s cross come shot to turn the ball into the net and open his United account. It was no more than Falcao deserved, his constant movement in the opposition box troubled Everton and created openings all afternoon. It wasn’t until the final five minutes that Everton laid siege to United’s goal in search of an equaliser. DeGea was at full stretch to deny Leon Osman with a fingertip save. But the best was yet to come from the young keeper as after a Gareth Barry was denied by a gallant block from substitute Tyler Blackett, DeGea tipped Bryan Oviedo’s effort over the bar and earned his side the victory with a breathtaking save.
The result leaves Van Gaal’s side fourth heading into the international break. Van Gaal’s message to his players; we are not playing well and we are fourth, so what will happen when we do play well?”