Manchester United produced a stunning fightback at Goodison Park to beat Everton and move closer to the title.
Everton 2 Manchester United 4
United took a huge step towards the Premier League title as they moved five points clear at the top of the table with a win on Merseyside.
Everton had an early advantage inside 15 minutes when Alan Stubbs’ free-kick found the net after nicking Michael Carrick on the way through.
Manuel Fernandes produced a wonderful finish to double the Everton lead on 50 minutes, smashing into the top corner to send the home crowd into raptures.
John O’Shea struck back after goalkeeper Iain Turner made dropped the ball from a corner, bundling home from close range to give the Red Devils life.
Another corner brought United level, this time substitute Cristiano Ronaldo showed his arial prowess and headed goalwards before Phil Neville put through his own net trying to clear.
The turnaround was complete on 79 minutes when former Toffee Wayne Rooney converted calmly after a cross was only half-cleared.
Chris Eagles added the finishing touches to a ruthless comeback at Goodison when he raced clear and curled home in the final moments of the match.
The Mirror perfectly described the spirit and determination that the United side at the time played with.
“It’s never too late for them to win a game. So even though United were 2-0 down to goals from Alan Stubbs and Manuel Fernandes early in the second half, only a fool could have thought the game was safe. United’s spirit is why they came back against Milan last Tuesday after being utterly outplayed for large swathes of the first half. That’s why they beat Spurs 5-3 in 2001 after they’d been 3-0 down at half time.”
Manchester United would go on to capture their first title since 2003 the following month after a 1-0 win against Manchester City, but would lose in the semi-final of the Champions League to AC Milan and the FA Cup final to Chelsea.
Everton: Turner, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Fernandes, Osman, Vaughan. Substitutes: Wright, Naysmith, Van der Meyde, McFadden, Beattie.
Goals: Stubbs 12, Fernandes 50.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Brown, Heinze, Evra, Solskjaer, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Smith. Substitutes: Kuszczak, Lee, Richardson, Eagles, Ronaldo.
Goals: O’Shea 61, Neville 68 og, Rooney 79, Eagles 90.
What they say
Everton manager David Moyes was left to rue the lead his team blew.
“We gave United an opportunity to get back in the game. Their first goal was a big turning point and it was all our fault. So were the other three. It was poor all round really. We made it easy for them. If they had opened us up in the way they can do, I’d be the first to congratulate them, but today we gave them the goals.”
Phil Neville spoke about his former teammate Paul Scholes after the final whistle.
“Paul Scholes is class. He’s one of those players who, regardless of the score, regardless of the occasion, always wants the ball. People think that’s easy, but it’s not. I told him he was a jammy b*****d but he was too busy thanking me for the goal to notice. We’re the best of friends and he was asking why I didn’t shake his hand after the game.
“I told him I was too gutted. I said I’d speak to him in a couple of weeks when I’m over this, but they will be worthy champions.”
Ray Parlour gives his predictions and opinions for this weekend’s Premier League alongside TEAMtalk with a focus on Betsafe’s massive Boost Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City all to win.