Everton score biggest win over United in 23 years
Everton play a superb counter-attacking game to defeat the unsuspecting Red Devils
(James McCarthy 5, John Stones 35, Kevin Mirallas 74)
MANCHESTER UNITED 0
No one saw this coming.
Manchester United were caught with their pants down.
They went to Goodison Park expecting a good performance to banish the disappointment of last week's defeat by Chelsea.
They expected tough resistance from Everton yesterday, but not a sound beating.
The 3-0 loss - their heaviest of the season - must have stung.
Considering their excellent form since the middle of last month, this result came out of the blue.
They were robbed in broad daylight by men in balaclavas.
Goals by James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas gave the Toffees their biggest win over United in 23 years.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez masterminded the brilliant heist via a classic counter-attacking game that was both devastating and efficient.
The saving grace for United, however, is that it doesn't look like they are going to pay a heavy price for this shock reverse.
United fans need not worry and Liverpool supporters shouldn't gloat. The Red Devils' place in the top four still looks safe for now.
A gap of seven points separates them from Liverpool in fifth. Liverpool can narrow the distance to four points with a midweek win over Hull City.
But with four matches left, and bearing in mind that Liverpool must travel to Stamford Bridge in about two weeks' time, even the most optimistic Reds fan can see that overtaking United remains a long-shot.
United manager Louis van Gaal has every right to feel disappointed by the result, although he might have fewer complaints about his team's display.
United were not particularly poor.
They had their chances, but didn't take them. Marouane Fellaini spurned the best of the lot, when he lifted the ball over the bar with just the goalkeeper to beat in the seventh minute.
But it just seemed to be Everton's day.
They had almost everything going for them, from a crucial early goal against the run of play to a debatable refereeing decision that led to the third.
McCarthy's fifth-minute opener resulted from a counter-attack. United had flown off the blocks and were progressively piling the pressure in the Everton penalty box when the home side suddenly broke clear to puncture the visitors.
But United were not rattled, as they continued to dominate the proceedings.
Especially impressive was their pressing game which saw them steal the ball off Everton's midfielders on numerous occasions.
But, 10 minutes before the break, United were sliced open by their opponents' set-piece brilliance.
Stones it was, zipping across the penalty area to meet a floating corner with his head and thump it into the back of the net.
Everton's final goal in the 74th minute was a controversial one.
Romelu Lukaku decided at the final moment to leave the ball alone when he realised that he was offside.
Every other player on the pitch checked his run, except for Mirallas, who continued running and went on to beat goalkeeper David de Gea.
Van Gaal won't find too many things wrong in his post-mortem.
One thing, however, will stick out.
That his team have fallen to one of the oldest tricks in the book - the smash-and-grab.
McCarthy: We want to finish season on a high
Everton's James McCarthy thinks the 3-0 win over Manchester United can help them put a frustrating season behind them as they move into next season.
The midfielder opened the scoring early on, before goals from John Stones and Kevin Mirallas sealed an emphatic victory and consigned Louis van Gaal to consecutive defeats for the first time in his Old Trafford career.
After the game, Man-of-the-Match McCarthy told Sky Sports: "Obviously it's been a frustrating campaign but we've put a few wins on the bounce now and we want to kick on and finish the season on a high, but we don't want to get carried away.
"We need to take a game at a time and try and go unbeaten until the end of the season."
Stones, who scored his first goal in Everton colours, said: "It's been a long time, I've had a lot of pressure off players and staff to get a goal so it's a special feeling for me. To keep a clean sheet and score three against Manchester United, it's a big day for us and keeps us on a run.
"It's the big games you always look forward to. The best players bring the best out of you and I certainly enjoyed it today."
Roberto Martinez, who saw his side climb into the top half of the table after a difficult start to the season, praised the character of his players after the win.
The Toffees boss said: "The players deserve huge credit because we were facing a very good side.
"Looking at the results they've been collecting, we had to be at our best and I truly felt that as a team, every individual was at a fantastic level with the personality we had, and the defensive concentration and intensity and how dynamic we were on the counter-attack.
"To keep Manchester United quiet in the manner that we did, and get a clean sheet, in every department we were very, very good. I'm just delighted because every single player in that dressing room has been working extremely hard and they deserve this victory."
- PA Sport.
Ferguson wants his trophy record broken
Sir Alex Ferguson wants his trophy record to be broken.
The former Manchester United manager said his desire for the club to be successful means he is willing to lose the record and see another United manager outdo him.
The 73-year-old Ferguson collected 38 trophies in 26 years in Manchester, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns.
"We had a wonderful run of success when I was here and we won a lot of trophies," Ferguson told The Mirror.
"But I really hope someone comes along and breaks my record here, I really do.
"I'd like to see another United manager come in and win 45 trophies in 25 years. Nothing would make me happier.
"Why? Because it's a food chain at this club. First, there was the great Sir Matt Busby and then there was me.
"Now I'd love someone else to come in and establish a long run of success because that's what this club is all about."
Ferguson also said he enjoyed the "Fergie Time" goals his side scored, with United famous for their late goals.
Among the notable instances of crucial late goals included Steve Bruce's 97th-minute winner in 1993, the 1999 Champions League final when two stoppage-time goals saw them deny Bayern Munich 2-1 and Michael Owen's 96th-minute winner in the Manchester derby in September 2009.
"The one thing that I will always take from my time here as manager will be those last-minute goals," Ferguson said.
"I considered it was my job to send everyone home happy when they came to see us play and nothing did that like a last-minute goal.
"And I'm not just talking about the 1999 Champions League final. The number of last-minute goals we scored was incredible.
"The effect on everyone was something I still remember. I'd get back to the dressing room and my players would be jumping all over each other, my staff would be embracing one another, and the fans would leave the ground and head to the pub on a high.
"Those goals gave me the greatest memories and the impact they had on people made it the best part of the job for me." - Wire Services.