Manchester U 4 Everton 4
Manchester United 4 Everton 4, Old Trafford, English Premier League, April 22, 2012. Manchester United were held to an unexpected draw by a determined Everton team at Old Trafford. United had a comfortable two goal lead late in the second period, but the blue shirted men managed to score twice in the closing moments of the match to snatch a 4-4 draw.
Premiership leaders Manchester United played host to seventh placed Everton in their penultimate home game of the 2011-12 campaign. In their previous fixture, United had demolished Aston Villa by 4-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League courtesy of a double from Wayne Rooney and one goal each by Danny Welbeck and Luis Nani, whereas Everton had suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat against cross-city adversaries Liverpool in the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley Stadium where Nikica Jelavic had scored for The Blues, and Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for The Anfielders. In the corresponding meeting of the 2010-11 season, a late second half goal from former Club Deportivo Guadalajara marksman Javier Hernandez had given Manchester United a 1-0 win over Everton, and Sir Alex Ferguson´s title challengers were favourites to overcome the Liverpudlians who had failed to beat The Reds at Old Trafford since the 19th of August 1992 when Peter Beardsley, Robert Warzycha and Mo Johnston all made the scoresheet for the visitors in a 3-0 Premiership triumph.
The encounter at The Theatre of Dreams was indeed a thriller, with both Manchester United and Everton giving everything they possibly had to give. The Merseysiders, who were wearing an all-blue kit for the occasion, unexpectedly went ahead against the flow of play when Liverpool born right wingback Tony Hibbert crossed for Jelavic whose header sailed into the net via the inside of the far upright in the 33rd minute of the bizarre clash. Four minutes before the sound of the half-time whistle, however, Nani found Wazza who nodded the ball past Everton and United States international netminder Tim Howard and into the goal from just a mere six yards out. And twelve minutes into the second period of proceedings, Manchester United pushed themselves into the lead as Welbeck tricked defensive midfielder John Heitinga before the twenty-one-year-old frontman expertly curled his shot beyond the reach of Howard and into the top right corner of the goal. United carried on attacking and they were rewarded on the hour mark when hard running midfield workhorse Michael Carrick found the omnipresent Welbeck who flicked the ball onto Nani who coolly dinked the ball past Howard and into the back of the net to make the scoreboard read 3-1 in favour of the Old Trafford men.
After the morale sapping Manchester United charge, David Moyes´s Everton maintained enough composure to reduce the deficit as Belgium international Marouane Fellaini volleyed home a whipped cross from Hibbert in the 67th minute of the pulsating contest, only for the hosts to restore their two goal advantage when Rooney and Welbeck exchanged passes for the former to record his 180th goal in 362 first class appearances for his club. Then, in the 83rd minute, The Toffeemen scored their third goal of the afternoon as Fellaini found Jelavic who struck an accurate effort past Spain U21 shot stopper David de Gea and into the bottom corner of the net. And with five minutes remaining on referee Mike Jones´s watch, South African flank forward Steven Pienaar eventually managed to net the last goal of the action packed match to make the final score 4-4. As a result, the gap to second positioned Manchester City had now been cut to three points with only three more games left of the 2011-12 term. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Rafael da Silva, Jonathan Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Luis Nani, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck. Substitutes: Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Ryan Giggs, Ji-Sung Park, Javier Hernandez, Ben Amos. Everton Team: Tim Howard, Sylvain Distin, Johnny Heitinga, Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Marouane Fellaini, Darron Gibson, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic. Substitutes: Ross Barkley, Magaye Gueye, Tim Cahill, James McFadden, Victor Anichebe, Denis Stracqualursi, Jan Mucha.