Manchester United managed to see out their second narrow victory on the trot, defeating Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford, and are beginning to reassert their identity as a result.
After a nervy win over West Ham last week, this was supposed to be the big test for the Red devils, and for Everton a way of getting back some momentum for the season. But missing captain Wayne Rooney after he received a straight red, it was time for other stars to step up.
It was quite a niggly game with lot of little digs and pushes all over the park and four yellow cards in the first half hour alone. Results elsewhere will dictate the league table for some time yet but at the final whistle here, United were in the top four. The renaissance is gathering pace.
Here are the player ratings of the match(players who came on after 70 mins get no ratings)
(GK) David De Gea-10
This was his day. By far this was his best performance in United’s colour. Guessed the right way to save Leighton Baines’ penalty and Luke Shaw’s blushes at the end of the first half. And highlight of the match was his 2 instinctual saves at the death, saving an certain goal with a strong right hand and other one, a brilliant diving save when ball was creeping into the top cornor. Could have done nothing about the Everton’s goal. The three points belong to him.
A typical busy performance from the Brazilian, working hard. Good in defence and a threat in attack. A good show by the right back. His importance to this side is understated, but he could possibly track back a bit more.
(DF) Paddy McNair-7
Decent performance by the young defender. Although Lukaku was able to get away a decent shot in the first half, this was more due to Rafael’s lack of cover. That Steven Naismith had far too much space to take his header for the equalizing goal was a departmental failure.
(DF) Marcos Rojo-7
Was solid defensively but could have been a bitter quicker initiating counter attack. along way to go before he is a mainstay though.
(DF) Luke Shaw-6
A learning experience for the teenager. Gave away a silly penalty that could have proved costly. An early run and cross presented Falcao with an excellent scoring opportunity in the plus column. But the fact remains if it weren’t for de Gea, this could have been a horrible afternoon for the England man.
(MF) Daley Blind-6.5
The dutch was unmarked, and had ample of space throughout the match and should have done better with it. Some wayward passing and lack of vision exposed the fact how United need someone like Paul Scholes. But was excellent defensively.
(MF) Antonio Valencia-6
Playing in a completely different role of sitting back and providing support to Blind, he was anonymous in the first half. Showed some ambition in the second half with some runs forward. Did nothing wrong though and has always dovetailed well with Rafael’s overlap. Nonetheless, a hard worker who allowed his more talented teammates to shine.
(MF) Angel Di Maria-9
Another mind blowing performance by the Argentine. Running past players, lovely back heels, dangerous crosses, he was in full flow. A well taken goal to open the scoring, curling ball into the goal with a weaker right foot and a superb through ball to Flacao for the second goal, easily the best outfield player for United.
60 million pounds is starting to look cheap now!
(MF) Juan Mata-6.5
Carrying the responsibility of dictating play in absence of Rooney, Mata did not live up to the expectations. Combined beautifully with Di Maria for the first goal but his heavy touches let him down on many occasions. Sparks of brilliance but nothing decisive. Rather quiet otherwise and is noticeably less industrious than the club captain.
(FW) Radamel Falcao-7
Managed to miss two decent chances in the first half, one of which saw him drag a shot far wide from close in.
Falcao’s spatial awareness and movement around the box is phenomenal but he was perhaps trying too hard. It came as no surprise that his winner was an instinctual flick of the boot. Now off the mark, only the sky is the limit.
(FW) Robin van Persie-6
So far this has been a poor season for the Dutch striker and today was no different. Picking up an early booking for a foul on Gareth Barry and spent the rest of the game needing to keep his nose clean.
Slowed down team’s attack on some occasions and was slow reacting to lose balls in box too. If Falcao hits X, then van Persie ought to fear for his place when Rooney is available again.
(GK) TIM HOWARD-6
Could not be blamed for either of the goals. Made a good save from Di Maria’s free kick. But his clearance was wayward many times and eventually led to build up to the second goal.
(DF) TONY HIBBERT – 6.5
Had a very tough time in dealing with Di Maria throughout the match. But was efficient in going forward and did well in winning the penalty.
(DF) JOHN STONES – 7
Another accomplished performance from the young England centre-back and his late injury will be a concern for Roy Hodgson.
(DF) PHIL JAGIELKA – 6
Unlucky that his fine clearance led to the first goal but lost track of Falcao for the second. Continuing his indifferent season(apart from the wonder goal last season).
(DF) LEIGHTON BAINES-6.5
Disappointing penalty miss in the first half but made it up with a superb assist in the second half. Was bright in making forward runs, and solid defensively, a typical LEIGHTON BAINES performance apart from the penalty miss.
(DF) MUHAMED BESIC – 6
Did what he could to hold United’s forward at bay and booked for cynical foul on Falcao.
(MF) AIDEN McGEADY – 5.5
Struggled to make an impression down the Everton right. Replaced towards the end.
(MF) Gareth Barry-6.5
Had a hand in the Everton’s first goal but missed a great opportunity to equalise at death. Otherwise was professional in the CDM role.
(MF) STEVEN NAISMITH – 7
Scored with a fantastic header to equalise in the first half. By far the best player in Everton colours. Was a handful, threatening with dangerous crosses.
(MF) STEVEN PIENAAR-5.5
A lovely back heel leading to the penalty, but was tormented by Rafeal’s pace throughout the match. Was poor in tackling, and got a yellow card too.
(FW) ROMELU LUKAKU – 6
Not a good game for the Belgian striker. Was isolated as the lone striker. Did manage to create a chance by chesting down a good ball by Baines, but fired the shot off target.
Pursuing Computer Science Engineering from Bangalore Institute of Technology. Avid sports fan, specially football. A lifelong United supporter.