Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Man United 4 Everton 4

Steven Pienaar delivered a hammer blow to Manchester United’s title hopes by capping a stunning Everton fightback to seal a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford.

Pienaar’s 84th minute goal ensured that Manchester City can now win the title by winning all of their remaining games as United twice blew a two-goal lead to drop two crucial points.

By failing to hold onto the three points, United must now avoid defeat at City on Apr 30 to avoid their neighbours claiming the initiative – if Roberto Mancini’s team win at Wolves on Sunday afternoon.

Having suffered a demoralising FA Cup semi-final defeat against bitter rivals Liverpool last weekend, the biggest challenge for Everton manager David Moyes would have been motivating his players for the visit to Old Trafford.

Losing to Liverpool as good as ended Everton’s season and, with United chasing the victory to keep them on course for the title, it threatened to be a long afternoon for the visitors.

But with Steven Pienaar restored to the team after being cup-tied last week, and the fit-again Phil Jagielka back at the heart of defence, Everton started brightly and startled United with their ambition.

Jelavic forced David de Gea into a fifth minute save and Everton took control of possession as United struggled to emerge from their sluggish start.

The home side did have opportunities, with Rooney headed Patrice Evra’s cross wide and Paul Scholes twice going close from long range, but Everton deservedly broke the deadlock on 33 minutes when Nikica Jelavic claimed his sixth goal in six games.

Full-back Tony Hibbert was allowed to cross from the right and Jelavic, a £5m January signing from Rangers, pulled clear of Rafael at the far post before guiding a looping header over De Gea and into the far corner of the net.

Knowing that dropped points against Everton would enable City to win the league with a 100 per cent finish to the season, United had to find a way back into the game.

And former Everton striker Rooney hauled them level four minutes before half-time with a glancing header from Evra’s cross.

The goal was Rooney’s 179th for United since his £27m arrival from Everton in Aug 2004 and it moved him to joint fourth on the club’s all-time scoring charts alongside George Best and Dennis Viollet.

A point was not enough for United, though, and they emerged at the start of the second-half as though they had been energised by a half-time pep talk from Ferguson.

And they took the lead on 57 minutes when Welbeck finished off a period of lengthy possession with a stunning strike from 20 yards.

Although Pienaar was lying injured on the pitch with a knee injury, referee Mike Jones allowed play to go on and, despite having several chances to clear the danger, Everton left Welbeck to score a potentially crucial goal in United’s season.

Leading 2-1, United raised their game and they claimed a third goal just three minutes later through Nani.

Another flowing move by the home side resulted in Michael Carrick passing to Welbeck, whose lay off to Nani allowed the Portuguese to clip the ball over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

With City still holding a commanding goal difference advantage, United now had the opportunity to close the gap.

But they lost concentration at the back, allowing Hibbert free on the right again, and the defender crossed for Marouane Fellaini to make it 3-2 with a crisp right-foot volley on 66 minutes.

The Belgian’s goal could have signalled a nervous final 24 minutes for United, but Rooney restored their two-goal advantage three minutes later after finishing off a one-two with Welbeck.

Everton refused to throw in the towel, though, and they grew in confidence with United failing to put the game to bed.

And when Jelavic made it 4-3 on 83 minutes, United faced an anxious end to the game, with their winning margin under threat.

But the nightmare scenario came to fruition just sixty seconds later when Fellaini teed up Pienaar to equalise from six yards after Rafael had lost his man in the penalty area.

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