x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fellaini cuts through the red mist

Everton outmuscle Manchester United to claim an unexpected point thanks to a spirited second half comeback.

Everton's Marouane Fellaini, center, and Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic, right, battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England.
Everton's Marouane Fellaini, center, and Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic, right, battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England.

LIVERPOOL // Marouane Fellaini's header saved a point for Everton and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney got in a spot of bother as the two sides drew in a fabulous encounter at Goodison Park yesterday. United, captained by Ryan Giggs, were much the better team in the first half, so much so that it was at times embarrassing. But Everton's remarkable resurgence demonstrated that although they may be hovering at the wrong end of the Premier League, David Moyes' side are willing to fight to the bitter end. "We are really pleased with how the players finished, especially against Manchester United with the way they are playing," their manager Moyes said. "We are satisfied with a good point, a point against United at this moment is as good as a win." United fell five points behind early season pacesetters Liverpool and Chelsea and if that was not bad enough, Rooney was booked and then hauled off by Sir Alex Ferguson with 20 minutes to go after the former Everton player's temper flared at the abuse he was receiving from his former fans. Rooney was booed throughout the contest and did not help matters by kissing the United crest on his shirt, further inciting abuse. "I don't know why he was booked, I had fears about the referee, the crowd were reacting and I thought he might get sent off," Ferguson said. "We had some good chances and played some fantastic football but failed to capitalise on them. At the end of the day though you can't deny Everton the point." It is hard to overstate the scale of United's dominance in the first 45 minutes. Giggs was everywhere, seemingly defying age to completely run the visitors' offence, harrying Everton's backline and rendering the home side's midfield redundant. Fellaini, Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta were spectators as Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo cut them apart with an exhibition of simple, one-touch passing. It paid off in the 22nd minute with a goal of chilling simplicity. Giggs played an eye-of-the-needle pass through the Everton defence and Fellaini and Joleon Lescott stood still in the penalty box as Fletcher received the pass and scored through Tim Howard's legs. The Everton keeper was then forced into making save after save to keep United at bay, denying Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic and Giggs in just over 60 seconds of goalkeeping brilliance. However, in a stunning turnaround after the break, Everton easily became the better team and could have won. Soon after the restart, Everton captain Phil Neville was chased and abused by several of his former teammates following a heavy tackle on Patrice Evra which he immediately followed up with another on Ronaldo. United's players reacted furiously despite replays showing it was entirely legal. However, he soon got his revenge. On 64 minutes he delivered a superb cross and Fellaini outjumped the United defence to power a header past Edwin van der Sar. Just 60 seconds later Everton could have gone ahead when Yakubu latched on to an underhit Rio Ferdinand backpass but van der Sar diverted the ball on to a post.

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