Fellaini so sweet for Toffees
Everton rescue a point following much improved second half
Last Updated: 25/10/08 2:45pm
Fellaini: Earned Everton a point
A second half header from Marouane Fellaini earned Everton a point from a game Manchester United should have had wrapped up at half-time following an entirely dominant first 45 minutes.
Everton have yet to win at home all season and on their first half showing it was not hard to see why. Insipid in attack and ponderous in defence, David Moyes' side fell behind in the 22nd minute when Darren Fletcher took Ryan Giggs' cute pass in his stride before finding a neat finish to beat Tim Howard.
Were it not for Everton's American goalkeeper United would have gone in at the break with a handsome lead, as their former custodian found fine saves to deny an out-of-sorts Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic and the impressive Giggs.
Whatever Moyes said at the break clearly had the desired effect as his charges were entirely different side after the interval, as the imposing Fellaini towered above Vidic to plant Phil Neville's pinpoint delivery beyond Edwin van der Sar.
It could have been even better for Everton had van der Sar not repelled Yakubu Aiyegbeni's shot onto the post, after the big Nigerian had capitalised on a lapse in concentration on Rio Ferdinand's part.
The hosts were either brave or foolhardy to play two wide-men in Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta, leaving Leon Osman and Fellaini sometimes cruelly exposed in central midfield, where Giggs pulled all the strings.
United found space with ease. Dimitar Berbatov may seem to show an economy of effort, but his clever link-up play kept United moving forward with menace.
Everton did have a couple of decent half-chances early on, firstly when Fellaini took a pass from Joleon Lescott and saw a shot on the turn blocked by Nemanja Vidic.
From the corner by Mikel Arteta, Belgian midfielder Fellaini headed just over. Then Wes Brown needed to make a hasty block when Louis Saha struck a low drive from the edge of the box.
But United's movement, quality passing - and the amount of men they got forward so quickly - had Everton constantly stretched.
Fletcher had a header from Giggs' corner deflected wide, and Neville blocked a drive from Cristiano Ronaldo. Wayne Rooney then blasted wide after a free-kick had been blocked.
A goal from the champions has been on the cards for a while when Fletcher broke the deadlock after 22 minutes. Giggs' astute angled ball into the box by-passed a static Fellaini to allow Fletcher a run into space where he evaded Joleon Lescott, before calmly placing his shot wide of Tim Howard.
United sensed blood and Osman cleared off the line from Vidic, and Howard saved well from Ronaldo and Giggs as the visitors stormed forward.
Vidic was booked for a poor challenge which sent Saha flying after 29 minutes.
From the free-kick, Everton saw shots from Yakubu and Steven Pienaar charged down. Giggs' run and chip then created a headed chance for Rooney that dropped just wide.
Everton started the second period with more pace and urgency, which at least stopped United strolling in possession.
Phil Jagielka was booked for a foul on Berbatov after 51 minutes. When Arteta caught Brown, his pass to Fellaini produced a shot which was deflected away from goal.
Neville enraged his former United colleagues with a nasty lunge at an already grounded Ronaldo, boot connected with knee and the Everton captain was booked when the uproar had died down.
Everton then got their lifeline, having barely troubled Van der Sar previously. After 63 minutes Neville crossed from the right and Fellaini rose above Vidic to head the equaliser.
A minute later Yakubu harassed Ferdinand, stole the ball and ran into the box to see Van der Sar touch his shot onto the right post. United almost immediately sent on Anderson for Park.
Rooney was then booked for a late tackle on Arteta, the game now the physical battle Everton needed to inspire their revival. Rooney's chances of scoring the 100th goal of his career back at his former club were ended after 71 minutes when he was replaced by Nani.
Ronaldo was moved to play through the middle, and twice it took timely interventions from Yobo to snuff out danger. Brown was booked for bringing down Yakubu, before Ronaldo shot wide from a good position with the game's final chance of note.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||30||42|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||33|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||30||22|