A solitary goal from Javier Hernandez, his 12th in the Premier League this season, was enough to give Manchester united three more valuable points.
With the games coming thick and fast Sir Alex Ferguson shuffled his pack for the visit of Everton to Old Trafford. Mindful of a Champions League semi-final against Schalke 04, in midweek, there was a slightly unfamiliar look to the team with the eighteen looking as below:-
Team – Van der Sar, O`Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Fabio, Valencia, Gibson, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Hernandez
Subs – Kuszczak, Evra, Brown, Owen, Giggs, Carrick, Rafael
All in all, a total of five changes with Fabio, Gibson, Evans, Valencia and Ferdinand returning to the starting eleven.
With Sir Alex back in the dug-out after serving his touch-line ban it was United that got the game underway on a sunny afternoon. The opening exchanges were little to write home about with the first chance coming after Rooney saw his shot, following a free kick, deflected for a corner.
Everton responded with Van der Sar being called upon to save a low shot from Osman before a free kick from Baines was easily dealt with. As the fifteen minute mark approached United started to increase the pressure. Nani saw a shot well saved by Howard after an assist from Rooney whilst two more corners were forced without ay reward.
O`Shea then dragged a shot wide form a decent position whilst Howard was forced to save a fierce effort, from an acute angle, from Hernandez. Gibson, trying his luck from a long way out, shot well wide before, with thirty-one minutes on the clock, Howard produced a great save to deny Hernandez after a great pass form Rooney.
Two further corners were won but once again the visitors defence coped well. As the half started to edge towards its conclusion United could have scored when a shot from Nnai looked goal-bound, following a ball in from Valencia, only for it to hit a stricken Hernandez some six yards out and go wide.
Half Time – United 0 Everton 0
Everton made two changes at half time bringing on Anichebe and Cahill for the disappointing Beckford and Bilyaletdinov and Everton started the half well but without producing any decent end product. Eight minutes into the half, United produced their first decent move of the half when Anderson, Hernandez and Rooney combined only for Jagielka to produce a great saving tackle.
Down the other end Anichebe, after a powerful run, tumbled over in the area after tangling with Ferdinand but Peter Walton waved play on. Sir Alex made a change, introducing Evra for O`Shea and Gibson saw a shot deflected wide by Jagielka.
Just past the hour mark a second change was made when Owen came on for Nani. Everton were still pushing forward and a dangerous looking cross from Osman was dealt with by Evans. Van der Sar then had to produce a decent low save to deny Rodwell from scoring from some twenty yards out.
As the game approached the fifteen minutes of normal time left, Owen saw his deflected effort, at the near post, strike the post. A third change was made when Giggs came on for Gibson but United were still being denied by a robust Everton defence.
Hernandez was fouled by Jagielka some twenty-five yards out and Rooney saw his free kick tipped over the bar by Howard and for the resulting corner Rooney drilled a shot wide. Howard continued to impress in the Everton goal tipping over a close range header from Hernandez.
Just as it looked like Everton would hold out for the 0-0 draw, United got that crucial goal. Distin lost possession, Anderson sprung Valencia and his cross was headed home at the far post by Hernandez.
United 1 Everton 0 (Hernandez – 84 minutes)
With five minutes of stoppage time to play Everton pushed forward, Jagielka fired over form distance and Van der Sar was force dot save a Cahill header.
Victory came in the end but it was a nervous wait.
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