Radamel Falcao scored his first Manchester United goal, and it proved to be a big one as goals from two summer signings gave Louis van Gaal a 2-1 win over Everton at Old Trafford, secured by three massive saves by David de Gea.
US international Tim Howard made the game’s first quality save when he dove to keep out Falcao’s header off a Luke Shaw cross in the opening five minutes.
The home side had all the best chances in the opening 20 minutes, and they began to make more and more of their bright possession. Given oodles of space by Roberto Martinez’s tactics, Daley Blind ran things from the deep midfield, distributing to all forms of build-up play.
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They specifically targeted the left flank for much of the first half, but it was the right side where the game’s first goal came from just before the half-hour mark.
Rafael burst up the edge, and sent in a cross to the box. It didn’t reach any attackers, but the ball was troublesome enough that it caused Phil Jagielka to make a hurried clearance. It fell right at the feet of Juan Mata on the other side of the box, and instead of going for goal himself, he laid the ball off to Angel Di Maria who finished with a beautiful curling effort past a diving Tim Howard. The goal gave United a deserved lead, coming on their eighth shot of the match before Everton had even had a signle effort on goal.
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Everton had their best chance just seconds before the halftime whistle, but they could not capitalize. A brilliant flick from Steven Pienaar played Tony Hibbert in past Luke Shaw, and the England international hauled down the Toffee defender in the box.
Unfortunately for the visitors, David de Gea saved the penalty effort from Leighton Baines, the defender’s first miss from the spot in his Premier League career.
Falcao had a pair of brilliant chances early in the second half, with a Di Maria ball inches out of reach and a shot from point blank range blocked well by John Stones.
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He would rue those misses, as Everton would draw level. Off a free kick, Leighton Baines sent in a cross to the far post and Steven Naismith rocketed onto the ball and beat Paddy McNair to head home.
But Falcao would make amends. After clearing a ball off the line, he would put United in front just six minutes later. He poached a close range poke on a beautiful ball from Di Maria, and nodded it home by Howard for a 2-1 lead.
Louis van Gaal shut up shop bringing on Fellaini and Wilson, and it nearly backfired yet again, but de Gea came up with a two stunning saves on Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo to earn the points.
The win jumps Manchester United all the way to fourth in the table from tenth, while the loss puts Everton in a dangerous position just two points from the drop zone.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, McNair, Rojo, Shaw (Blackett 71′); Blind; Valencia (Fellaini 79′), Di Maria; Mata; Falcao (Wilson 73′), van Persie.
Goals: Di Maria 27′, Falcao 62′
Everton: Howard; Hibbert (Browning 77′), Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry, Besic, Pienaar (Oviedo 64′), Mcgeady (Osman 77′), Naismith; Lukaku.
Goals: Naismith 55′