Manchester U 2 Everton 1
Manchester United 2 Everton 1, Old Trafford, English Premier League, October 5, 2014. Manchester United managed to secure their third Premier League victory of the 2014-15 campaign with a 2-1 win over Everton at home. New boys Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao hit a goal each for United, while ex-Rangers ace Steven Naismith netted for The Toffees.
In their six opening fixtures of the 2014–15 Premier League season, Manchester United had defeated Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United, drawn with Sunderland and Burnley, and lost against Swansea City and Leicester City. The Merseysiders, for their part, had overcome West Bromwich Albion, drawn against Leicester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool, and been beaten by Chelsea and Crystal Palace. As for injury problems ahead of the Sunday clash, Manchester United defenders Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling continued to occupy the sidelines, whereas The Evertonians had to cope without the playing services of defender Seamus Coleman and midfielders Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, and Kevin Mirallas. In the corresponding meeting of the 2012-13 campaign, Manchester United, who were then managed by previous Goodison Park supremo David Moyes, had succumbed to a rather disappointing 1-0 defeat against Roberto Martinez´s Everton team at Old Trafford, but The Reds were still regarded as favourites to overcome The Liverpool Blues.
At Theatre of Dreams, David de Gea became the first goalkeeper to stop a penalty from Everton and England defender Leighton Baines in the Premier League when the twenty-four-year-old shot stopper saved his spot-kick shortly before the half-time refreshments. The Spanish international was equally good in the second half and kept out several efforts from the visiting team during the closing stages of the encounter. The Merseysiders had their moments during the match, but it was Manchester United who emerged victorious following a fully deserved 2-1 victory. Angel Di Maria, who was once again in a class of his own, opened the scoring account for the hosts as the aggressive and attack minded playmaker received the ball from fellow midfield man Juan Mata and hammered it home from the edge of the area midway through the first period. Shortly before the half-time whistle, however, United defender Luke Shaw tackled Everton´s Tony Hibbert inside the box and referee Kevin Friend, with his vision clearly clouded by cataracts, awarded a penalty to the Liverpudlians, but Baines´s effort from the spot was superbly saved by De Gea. Baines redeemed himself, though, by providing a perfect cross to Steven Naismith who nodded in an equalising goal for the visitors ten minutes after the resumption. The Manchester United players rolled up their sleeves and managed to restore their advantage when a cross-shot from the omnipresent Di Maria found its way to Radamel Falcao who put the ball past Everton custodian Tim Howard and into the back of the net two minutes past the hour mark. Both of the teams had their opportunities to score during the latter stages of the game, but no more goals were seen at Old Trafford. A loanee from Monaco, Falcao proceeded to notch up four Premiership goals in twenty-six appearances for Manchester United during the 2014–15 season before the Santa Marta born forward signed a loan del with Roman Abramovich´s Chelsea in the summer of 2015. After hitting only one goal in ten Premier League matches for The Pensioners, the frustrated South American would eventually return to The Red and Whites the following year.
The narrow home win over Everton meant that Manchester United moved three places up to fourth position in the Premiership standings. Chelsea were now topping the Premier League table with nineteen points from seven matches, five points ahead of second placed Manchester City, and six in front of Southampton in third spot. In the aftermath of the fixture against The Toffees, recently appointed head coach Louis van Gaal told the media that he was well pleased with his team and he particularly singled out the goalkeeping performance of David de Gea. Louis van Gaal: “David de Gea made three magnificent saves and Manchester United won because of that. He stopped a penalty at the end of the first half, and he did very well during the final fifteen minutes.” Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Rafael da Silva, Paddy McNair, Juan Mata, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia, Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie. Substitutes: Tyler Blackett, Tom Thorpe, Marouane Fellaini, Darren Fletcher, Adnan Januzaj, James Antony Wilson, Anders Lindegaard. Everton Team: Tim Howard, John Stones, Leighton Baines, Gareth Barry, Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar, Muhamed Besic, Aiden McGeady, Steven Naismith, Romelu Lukaku. Substitutes: Darron Gibson, Leon Osman, Bryan Oviedo, Antolin Alcaraz, Tyias Browning, Samuel Eto’o, Joel Robles.
Manchester United Quickfacts
Manchester United finished the 2014-15 season in fourth position with twenty wins, ten draws, and eight losses, as much as fifteen points adrift of Premiership Champions Manchester City.