Manchester United 1 - 0 EvertonThe Toffees were finally back in action after yet another international break with a trip to Manchester United. Roberto Martinez named a strong starting line-up including Gerard Deulofeu making his first start since January against Swansea City. Ramiro Funes Mori and Mo Besic were the players dropped to the bench, with John Stones reinstated to the Everton defence. Cleverley appeared to be playing in covering mode for Gareth Barry who served the second and final game of his suspension.
With Fellaini of the bench, Man Utd kicked off after the unwelcome distraction of the South Stand being renamed after Sir Bobby, and it was cagey stuff from both sides until Lennon seemed to have released Lukaku but an utterly atrocious first touch saw the big man leave the ball behind him. McCarthy got whacked and needed some attention.
Rashford almost caught out the Everton defence with an audacious backheel and it earned the first corner of the game that the Blues repelled. After some head-tennis, Everton won a free-kick that Baines drove in well enough but the Blue shirts failed to make contact. Barkley fed Deulofeu rather than shooting and the young Spaniard darted infield past Rojo but ran into a cul-de-sac rather than making a telling pass.
Cleverley did brilliantly to regain possession and stride forward, feeding Lukaku who wanted to hold the ball up and hold off Blind, his backheel to Cleverley nowhere near clever enough and far too easily picked off.
At the other end, Martial got off a fierce shot that flew inches wide, thanks to an unseen deflection off Baines's arse. The Blues slowed the pace of the game down, intent on retaining possession but giving it up far too easily, although the hosts were hardly any better.
Another good run in by Deulofeu saw McCarthy fouled a little closer to the hosts' penalty area, but Baines could only clip the wall with it. He hooked the ensuing corner to Lukaku at the far post but his header bounced out. More poor ball-control saw lots of midfield turnovers.
A Man Utd corner was cleared. Stones did his bit to play out of defence and pick out Lennon but the attack broke down when the ball was fed to Lukaku and, in no time, it was another corner for Man Utd, followed by a lot of scrapy stuff around the edge of the Everton area before a goal-kick was awarded. Utd attacked again but Rashford was dispossessed. He then fired in at an angle on Robles.
Half-hour gone and a pretty even contest, with neither side paying particularly well, with so many switches of possession, Stones with a poor clearance to a Utd player... twice! He then was well positioned as a defender to clear a dangerous cross from Mata.
Utd were suddenly pressing much more effectively, Coleman had to be very smart to deny Rashford a shot with a fantastic block-tackle inside his own area. But with the ball, Everton were trying to pick out Lukaku with punted percentage balls that continually struggled to master.
A brilliant piece of play by the hosts looked to set up a gaol but fantastic defending in a superb scissors move by Stones and Baines together, Stones with a superbly timed defensive tackle in the penalty area, snuffed out the danger brilliantly. More neat Everton possession going forward... but taking far to long to get near the Utd goal.
Barkley tried to give Lukaku a ball to run onto but it was too far ahead of the big man, who had failed to anticipate it. At the other end, Martial tried to break through the Everton defence but handled the ball.
Not a classic, both teams neutralizing each other in the fist half before either side could get sight of the opposing goalkeeper... perhaps some Bobby Charlton-style rocketry from distance could break the deadlock in the second half.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaced Rojo before Everton resumed play, pumping the ball pointlessly toward Lukaku. Rashford tried and failed to beat Jagielka out wide. Lukaku held up a free-kick from Stones well and Everton kept the presson , Baines playing a great ball in to Lukaku, his shot blocked just wide of the post, and the corner coming to nought. Proabbly Everton's best spell yet.
Deulofeu was screaming for a foul from Blind, that was evenmtually called by Andre Marriner. Baines again on the set-piece, winning a corner off a defensive header. Baines into the danger area but half-cleared, Coleman's shot blocked by Rashford's arm.
A mix-up at the back for Utd should have seen Lukaku or Deulofeu go for the ball but neither bothered, and Man Utd waltzed up the other end, a clever piece of play and cross to Martial at the far post by the sub was turned in with ease.
Deulofeu tried a text-book cross that deflected to De Gea. Everton won a corner, brilliantly swung in by Deulofeu, and a fantastic bullet header from Jagielka almost broke the crossbar, as he stooped a fraction too low after smartly evading his man. The Bues couldn't clear their lines, though, and suffered some home pressure, Barkley, Stones and others all losing possession. Lingard missed a wicked cross from Mata and Stones cleaned up.
Robles did a nice Stones impression, playing the ball away from Lingard, but the Blues could not get out of their half, as Mirallas replaced Deulofeu... like for like, SOP from Martinez.
Barkley lost possession again under zero pressure but Stones eventually cleared yet another Man Utd attack, the blues still failing to build anything yet again, because every clearance was finding a red shirt, with no-one showing for the ball.
A nice ball from Barkley played to Lukakau's feet after a great knock-down from Mirallas hit the back of his heel. A ball played over the top to Lukaku for him to run onto in typical laboured fashion saw Darmian get in his way and win a free-kick, but at least Everton were no longer under continual pressure, Mirallas trying to shoot but blocked.
Nice play from Baines, Lukaku to Barkley saw the youngster get around the back but fire over a wayward cross rather than shooting in on goal. Lukaku was lazily offside for a good ball forward from Baines. Jagielka was required to halt the next Utd attack as the Red pressure resumed until the ball was lumped forward in the vague direction of Lukaku and out of play.
Baines crossed in lazily from the left, straight to De Gea, as Everton struggled to really threaten. More sideways and backward passing from Everton went nowhere with Barkley ambling around, possibly injured. With time running down, Everton didn't really look like changing the scoreline despite having played their part in another strictly limited display, with the manager incapable or uninterested in doing anything to change the game.
A slightly better move saw Coleman cross, Valencia in front of Lukaku fora corner that again Jagielka could have scored from but he powered his snapshot straight at De Gea. A free-kick played back to Cleverley blocked away, and suddenly Man Utd were storming, five on one, but McCarthy was across ferociously as the game finally came to life.
Everton broke but then stalled as Barkley dithered around but the ball got out to Coleman and a fantastic cross should have been converted by Lukaku, who was a step behind so it wasn't... then Lukaku burst through but could not shoot and Cleverley could do little nore behind him.
Three minutes for the 50-60% man Niasse to show what he could do in place of Barkley. Niasse broke forward but his pass was consummate laziness, straight to a red shirt and Man Utd pressed again. Lingard was carded for a cynical trip on Stones.
Everton made one final push, Niasse trying to force his way past Smalling and failing miserably. Everton had played their part in a poor game, perhaps a little better than the last outing against Arsenal, but a poor result, their second loss away from home, 10th loss of the season.
Scorers: Martial (54')
Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling [Y], Blind (81' Valencia), Rojo (46' Fosu-Mensah), Schneiderlin, Carrick (58' Herrera), Lingard [y:82'], Mata, Martial, Rashford.
Subs not Used: Romero,Young, Fellaini, Memphis.
Everton: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, McCarthy, Cleverley, Deulofeu (62' Mirallas), Lennon, Barkley, (88' Niasse), Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Howard, Funes Mori, Besic, Oviedo, Kone.
Referee: Andre Marriner