De Gea stars for United in 2-1 win over Everton
MAN UNITED 2
(Angel di Maria 27, Radamel Falcao 62)
(Steven Naismith 55)
David de Gea pulled off a performance that will be studied at coaching academies for decades to come.
Scientists must examine the Spaniard's reflexes. NASA astronauts should take a look at his weightlessness.
The Manchester United goalkeeper defied the eye. He defied logic. His final, jaw-dropping save defied gravity.
He arrived at Old Trafford a skinny boy overburdened by expectation. He became a man in the face of unbearable adversity during the ill-fated David Moyes era.
He became a colossus against Everton last night.
With a penalty save in the first half and not one, but two, career-defining saves in injury time to preserve United's 2-1 victory, de Gea not only cemented his place as the finest shot-stopper since Peter Schmeichel, but he also staked his claimed for being the world's best goalkeeper.
He's been steadily building his case for some time, his sterling work mostly overlooked by United's defensive ineptitude and off-field mayhem last season.
But he presented the watching world with three extraordinary reasons why he may stand alone before the season's out; a gatekeeper beyond compare, a true No. 1 in every sense of the word.
Goalkeepers save penalties. Goalkeepers tip away goal-bound drives. On rare occasions, goalkeepers pull off that one save that takes the breath away; the one that has goal stamped on the ball from the moment it leaves the laces.
De Gea achieved all three in a single game.
Manchester United were in the top four at the final whistle. Expect them to stay there, partly because of their increasingly formidable forward line, but mostly because of their Spanish shield between the sticks.
Suddenly, United are blessed with world-class talent from front to back.
De Gea can seem unbeatable. In fleeting moments, Angel di Maria was unplayable. In time, Radamel Falcao may prove unstoppable.
The peerless trio can cope with the rarefied atmosphere of the top four, even if their jittery back four still suffer from nosebleeds.
Falcao's first goal for his new club proved to be the winner with di Maria the architect. The Argentinian played executioner for the opener.
The autumnal sun shone on the South Americans at Old Trafford and they illuminated proceedings.
Still, it's important to put United's win into perspective by stressing how far Everton have fallen from their swashbuckling shenanigans of last season.
Romelu Lukaku swopped positions twice during the game in a futile effort to find the form of last season. It continues to elude him.
The Toffees are stuck in a rut, with a manager devoted to a quick, attacking philosophy, but not necessarily blessed with the personnel. What's more, they returned from Russia with lethargy.
Roberto Martinez professes his love for European campaigns. His tired squad may not agree.
In midfield, it was a case of Daley Blind leading the blind Evertonians. They struggled to get close to the dynamic Dutchman. Playing at the base of a diamond, Blind profited in the spaces between Lukaku and the back four.
He bossed proceedings. He's also proving to be quite a signing for Louis van Gaal.
With the introduction of James Wilson in the second half, the United manager has now used 30 players in just seven Premier League games, a startling reminder of his struggles to find a successful formula with a bloated injury list.
And yet, the Red Devils trudged off the pitch knowing they were fourth in the table. The tide is turning. Their frontline is still working on its communication, but the South Americans are settling. Goals will be plundered.
They need to be. United's Achilles heel remains exposed for all opponents to kick mercilessly.
Without playing particularly well, Everton suddenly found their pulse after Leon Osman's introduction and probably deserved a late equaliser.
As they did against Leicester City and West Ham, the Red Devils failed to hold the line.
Fortunately, one man did. De Gea faced an onslaught and refused to yield.
The South American superstars supplied the goals to send United into the top four. But their European ambitions are likely to rest with a stubborn Spaniard.
When it comes to United's Champions League dream, de Gea is the true keeper of the flame.
Di Maria: David should take my award
Man of the match Angel di Maria said his award should have gone to Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea after their side recorded back-to-back wins for the first time under Louis van Gaal by beating Everton 2-1.
Di Maria put United ahead midway through the first half as he fired home from Juan Mata's cross for his third goal of the season.
After Steven Naismith's equaliser for Everton, di Maria helped the hosts regain their lead just after the hour mark, turning provider for fellow summer recruit Radamel Falcao, who slotted the ball past Tim Howard from six metres for his first United goal.
De Gea did well to keep out two late Leon Osman strikes, one from Gareth Barry and one fantastic effort from Bryan Oviedo as the hosts held on for the three points.
"I think David is the guy who deserves this reward rather than myself. He saved us throughout the game and particularly towards the end and the penalty as well so not only him, but the rest of the side also deserve this," said di Maria, after the match.
He also reserved praise for fellow newcomer Falcao (above) and hopes the win is the start of great things to come at Old Trafford, adding: "Yes, it's great for him.
"He's been looking for that first goal for a while now and it's very, very important for him.
"I think not only him, but ourselves are on the right road now, and the main thing is we're fighting for victories and fighting for points.
"We've got the three points for the day and hopefully we can now move further up the table."
De Gea, meanwhile, praised the United defence, saying: "I think we played a very good game.
"In the first half, we had possession and we scored a goal and I think in the last 10 minutes, they pressed a lot and they had many chances, but I saved their chances and I'm happy for that, for the win.
"I think the defenders played very well and of course it was a great match, a good three points." - PA Sport.