Manchester United played Everton this past Sunday in an important match. With a win, United could finally breach the top 4. Wayne Rooney, serving the first game of his suspension, was unable to play. Manchester's starting lineup featured David De Gea in goal, Luke Shaw at left back, Marcos Rojo at left centerback, the youngster, Paddy McNair at right centerback, Rafael at right back, Daley Blind at center defensive midfielder, Antonio Valencia at right midfielder, Ángel Di María at left midfielder, Juan Mata at center attacking midfielder, Robin Van Persie wearing the captain's armband at center forward, and Radamel Falcao, his forward partner.
United dominated the possession throughout the first half, earning the majority of shots. Once the first was "awarded," yellow cards were piecemeal between both teams. Fouls were numerous in general. Everton's attack truly lacked any menace without a single shot on goal in the first half. In the 4th minute, Luke Shaw's cross found Falcao, who placed his header far post. Tim Howard, however, made the diving save required to thwart his efforts. In the 9th minute, Van Persie, frustrated after a hard tackle from Gareth Barry, slid in late and hard to receive an early yellow card. In the 12th minute, there was a wasted opportunity by Mata on a cross from Di María; instead of hitting it first time, Mata attempted a controlling touch, which was unsuccessful. Then, in the 17th minute, Everton's Muhamed Besic earned the team's first yellow on an ill-advised challenge from behind on Falcao.
In the 19th minute, Di María nearly produced brilliance with a wonderful back-heel volley through pass to Falcao, which produced a scoring chance that the striker sent screaming wide. In the 26th minute, Steven Pienaar committed a foul on Rafael and earned himself a yellow card. One minute later, Rafael played a dangerous ball into the Everton box, which didn't lead immediately to a scoring chance, but Mata's second chance ball, a through ball towards Ángel Di María provided the chance United were seeking. Di María slotted the chance far post with the finesse curl needed to keep it from the outstretched arms of Tim Howard, but in the goal. In the 30th minute, Di María's free kick deflected off an Everton defender and nearly beat Howard at the corner of the far post. A minute later, Daley Blind's second foul in the game, a curious play, where he stepped on Steven Naismith's cleat following a pass, earned him a yellow card.
In the 47th minute of the first half, Everton's first threatening move, Tony Hibbert received a through ball in the United 18 yard box, requiring a tidy tackle from Luke Shaw. Shaw's tackle fouled Hibbert, and gave Everton a penalty kick. Leighton Baines stepped forward to take the penalty, 14 for 14 from the 12-yard spot in his Barclays Premier League career. De Gea's reactions were superb, as he dove to his right to save Baines' penalty kick. The penalty shot was the last bit of action in the first half.
The second half opened up with a flurry of action, both teams producing compelling attacks that nearly led to scoring chances. A few landed at the feet of Radamel Falcao, who was still seeking his first goal with Manchester United. In the 55th minute, following a Valencia yellow card, Leighton Baines carved out a wonderful ball to Stephen Naismith, who drove the resulting header past a frozen De Gea to draw Everton level.
The effort from Everton was much better in the second half; they possessed the ball more with an increased menacing nature to their attack. However, in the 62nd minute, Man. United would regain the lead. A Di María driven shot-pass found an open Falcao, who finished the play by driving the ball one-time past Tim Howard.
The second half besides producing more goals, also produced the match's substitutions. In the 71st minute, Luke Shaw picked up a knock that saw him replaced by Tyler Blackett. In the 73rd, Falcao's number was called for young James Wilson. Everton replaced Aiden McGeady with Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert with Tyias Browning. United concluded all substitutions by replacing the Antonio Valencia, already yellow carded, with Marouane Fellaini in the 79th minute.
Late in the game, in the 87th minute, Osman gave United players and supporters a reason for alarm, hitting a driven shot off a corner kick that De Gea scrambled to smother. Osman would attempt another shot in the 91st minute that required another excellent save from De Gea. Everton's last gasp came when Oviedo volleyed a rebound later in stoppage time requiring another moment of brilliance from De Gea, as he needed to quickly recover from diving to save a previous shot blocked by a United defender.
United, largely through the heroic efforts of De Gea, was able to secure the victory and earn the three points to place themselves in 4th on the Premier League table. The backline performed well except for being exposed on the Naismith goal and the penalty kick foul. Paddy McNair played another complete game, playing simple and passing efficiently. Ángel Di María was the midfield maestro yet again, generating the majority of United's scoring chances, assisting Falcao's goal and adding one of his own. Falcao had another strong performance, finally scoring his first goal of the season. Manchester United hopes to continue their winning streak on the road against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. There is yet another international break this week, so the game will be played Monday October 20th at 3:00pm.