Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Man United 0 Everton 1

As Sir Alex Ferguson shuffled out of the Old Trafford directors’ box with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” ringing in David Moyes’s ears, even the most pessimistic of Manchester United supporters must have wondered how it had possibly come to this.

Less than a week into December, the Premier League champions lie in ninth position, as close to the bottom three as to leaders Arsenal, with a desperate scramble for fourth place, rather than retaining their title, the only realistic challenge open to them after Bryan Oviedo’s 86th-minute goal secured Everton’s first victory at Old Trafford for 21 years.

The fact that the sting in the tail was applied by the club he left six months ago, following 11 years of sterling service, was impossible to ignore, as were the caustic chants from the 3,500 travelling supporters who goaded Moyes with the taunts about his job prospects.

Within seconds of the final whistle, social media was already buzzing with the gag that, after 11 years, Moyes had finally seen Everton win at Old Trafford. A cruel joke, but there could be no denying the quality of Roberto Martínez’s team and the ambition they displayed in ending their United jinx.

Moyes, however, insisted that the defeat – United’s fourth in the league this season – was not a killer blow to their title hopes and that losing to Everton was no more painful than any other loss.

“We have got a long way to go,” Moyes said. “We will need to play some great football and win an awful lot of games in the run-in if we are going to be in there and around it at the end of the season.

“Can we do it? Yeah, I’ve got nothing to suggest anything else. I’m disappointed to lose, but that is the way the game goes sometimes.

“It doesn’t hurt more. They are a very good team with very good players, so you would imagine it is a sore one when it is your old team, but that is the way it is.”

Moyes, who insisted during his brief post-match press conference, which lasted just two minutes and eight seconds, that he had no idea when Robin van Persie would return from a groin injury, must prepare to face Newcastle on Saturday without Wayne Rooney through suspension due to the forward picking up his fifth booking of the season following a clash with Phil Jagielka.

The loss of Rooney merely compounded a grim night for Moyes and United, who hit the woodwork twice but rarely had control of a game dominated by Everton.

“We are proud,” Martínez said. “It was more than a football game, we were trying to get over the mental block. It’s more than 20 years since we won here, so it wasn’t about three points, it was about being ourselves and pushing each other.

“Manchester United didn’t have a bad day, it was two teams playing eye-to-eye and the team that took the first chance was going to have a big impact on the final score.” Diplomatic as ever, Martinez was being polite in suggesting this was not a bad day for United.

Despite the missed chance, it was bad. There was no late surge, no dominance of the ball and a distinct lack of ideas and creativity. By Moyes’s own admission, United’s run of 12 games unbeaten prior to this fixture contained too many draws and too few victories for his team to successfully claim to have emerged from their early season malaise.

It has been a case of one step forward, one step back, particularly with victories against Arsenal and Bayer Leverkusen being followed by unsatisfactory draws at Cardiff and Tottenham.

Champions turn draws into victories and United have simply failed to do that often enough this season, with their build-up play too ponderous and a lack of cutting edge to their attacking play.

Once again, those flaws came to the fore and the failure to adequately strengthen the squad in the summer, as much the fault of the club’s hierarchy as Moyes, was exposed by United’s lack of options.

Everton’s start to life without Moyes has been better than United’s with him, however, and Martínez’s players were never going to be sacrificial lambs against their former manager.

By the time Patrice Evra’s heavy cross flashed past the Everton goal on 14 minutes, the visitors could have scored three times, with Romelu Lukaku, and Kevin Mirallas, twice, going close to scoring.

Lukaku, the Belgian forward on loan from Chelsea, was unplayable at times, with his pace and power proving too much even for Nemanja Vidic, United’s warhorse captain, who was tormented by the young striker.

Everton’s adventure troubled United greatly, particularly in midfield, where Ryan Giggs and Marouane Fellaini were outnumbered by the visitors’ cavalier youngsters.

United were only able to threaten sporadically, hitting a post through Rooney before Danny Welbeck headed against the crossbar following Tim Howard’s reflex save from Evra.

Howard impressed against his former team, who were undoubtedly wasteful in front of goal, but Everton also had their opportunities.

Gerard Deulofeu should have scored on 70 minutes when David de Gea saved well at the near post, but the breakthrough came when Oviedo ghosted in at the far post to send Lukaku’s cross beyond United’s helpless goalkeeper.

It was perfect timing for Everton, but brutal and painful for Moyes. It is difficult to put on a brave face on nights like these.

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