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  • Everton 2-0 Manchester United, Premier League

Everton too strong for United on Moyes' return

ESPN staff
April 20, 2014
Kevin Mirallas leaves David de Gea grasping thin air as he puts Everton 2-0 ahead at Goodison Park © PA Photos
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Manchester United's faint chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League were finally ended as Everton kept alive their own hopes of supplanting them in the Champions League next season with a comfortable 2-0 win at Goodison Park.

David Moyes was booed on his return to the club that he managed for 11 years before his beleaguered tenure at Old Trafford, which had another abject performance added to the logbook. United have played 22 matches in all competitions in 2014 and lost 10 of them.

Despite dominating possession, United were frequently caught out by Everton's direct counter-attacking that used Romelu Lukaku's physical presence to its full advantage. It was Lukaku's shot that forced desperate measures upon Phil Jones on 27 minutes and his handball gifted the hosts a penalty, which Leighton Baines - a long-time target for United - converting emphatically.

Phil Jones handles Romelu Lukaku's shot to give away a penalty © PA Photos
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It got worse for United two minutes before half time as Kevin Mirallas scored from a tight angle after more quick counter-attacking by Everton.

In truth, it did not get any better at any point for Moyes or his team. A stream of substitutions followed in the second half, but nothing could turn the tide in United's favour. The best chances of the second half fell to Everton, with Mirallas warming de Gea's gloves and Naismith failing to hit the target when picked out at the back post by a Mirallas cross.

Everton are still one point behind Arsenal in the race for fourth place, while United cannot finish any higher than fifth even if the win their remaining four matches. Having previously won at Old Trafford this season, Everton also complete the league double over their north-west rivals for the first time in 44 years.

As expected, Moyes emerged from the tunnel to a loud chorus of boos from the home fans. He stood on the touchline, seemingly unaffected by the negative reaction from the fans who cheered him on for 11 years.

On the pitch it was Everton who were taunting their opponents. They dominated possession and United could only chase shadows as Everton flicked the ball across the turf with ease. Rooney, his every touch booed, dropped too deep, as did Juan Mata, leaving United without an outlet up top.

Everton had no such problem. Lukaku raced at the United defence like a freight train, bruising a shell-shocked Jones and Jonny Evans, who looked off the pace after a two-month absence.

Seamus Coleman found Steven Naismith in the box but his shot was blocked by Evans' right elbow. Mark Clattenburg waved away appeals for a penalty. Moments later the referee had no choice but to point to the spot when Jones inexplicably stuck out his right arm to stop Lukaku's shot. Baines blasted the ball down the middle inches away from De Gea's outstretched leg.

Everton were playing some beautiful football. Coleman, Mirallas and Steven Naismith played the ball in a tight triangle, but Lukaku could not finish off the move.

The seemingly inevitable second came just before the break when the excellent Coleman played in Mirallas, who beat De Gea from close range. United appealed for offside against Mirallas, but replays showed Buttner had played the Belgian on.

Howard was finally called into action in first-half injury-time when Evans headed into the American's hands. Rooney had a much better chance after the restart, but he dallied, allowing substitute Antolin Alcaraz to come to the rescue.

Moyes brought on Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez, and later Danny Welbeck but nothing changed on the pitch, as Everton remained in control.

Tempers then flared when James McCarthy saw yellow for a rash challenge on Mata and Rooney reacted with a late two-footed tackle on the Irishman. Naismith wasted two good chances to make it 3-0 while Howard denied Rooney a goal at the other end.

There was no way through and Moyes endured taunts of "sacked in the morning" shortly before he disappeared down the tunnel at the final whistle.

Leighton Baines converts a first-half penalty to put Everton in front against Manchester United © Getty Images
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