Ronaldo ends Everton's run
Winger converts late penalty to make it nine home wins in a row
Last Updated: 23/12/07 5:07pm
Ronaldo: Decisive double
Cristiano Ronaldo's cool penalty late on ended Everton's unbeaten run as Manchester United kept up their pursuit of Arsenal with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.
Everton appeared to be holding on for a point until Steven Pienaar's clumsy challenge on Ryan Giggs two minutes from time allowed Ronaldo to send Tim Howard the wrong way from 12 yards.
Ronaldo had earlier put United ahead on 22 minutes, with a fine curling shot from outside the box.
But the visitors drew level five minutes later when Tim Cahill rose powerfully to meet Pienaar's cross from the left wing.
The Premier League champions were labouring in their efforts to break down their opponents until Ronaldo struck to put the skids under Everton's 13-game unbeaten run.
Nemanja Vidic caught Yakubu Aiyegbeni in the ribs with one early challenge and four names were in referee Howard Webb's notebook before the contest was 15 minutes old.
Wayne Rooney was first on the list, for a wicked tackle on Tim Cahill and given the way the former Everton hero responded to a perceived stamp by Lee Carsley later in the half, it is a good job Webb did not take Ferguson's pre-match call for more red cards too literally.
Other than one effort, saved at close range by United old-boy Tim Howard, Rooney was a muted force and, not for the first time, it took a moment of brilliance from Ronaldo to break the deadlock.
There appeared little on for the Portugal winger when he collected Carlos Tevez's square pass but, having stepped inside Carsley's poor challenge, he let fly with a superb shot which dipped and swerved beyond Howard.
It was tough luck on Everton, who had been at least United's equals. However, it took them only five minutes to level as Pienaar exposed some hesitancy on the part of rookie defender Danny Simpson and picked out Cahill with an excellent far-post cross which invited the headed finish.
Joleon Lescott nodded Rooney's disguised far-post chip off the line, then Ronaldo skimmed the bar with an acrobatic volley as an unmarked Tevez waited behind.
The half-time introduction of John O'Shea for Simpson had little effect on the contest as Everton's central defensive pair Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka continued to patrol their penalty area in excellent fashion, knowing Howard was in determined mood behind them.
Howard's powers of concentration were questioned by Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford but the American's agility has never been in doubt, and after one low stop to deny Tevez, he stood firm to beat away an Anderson piledriver.
It was the sum total of United's threat until Rooney strode onto Ronaldo's short free-kick and blasted a shot which flicked off the crossbar.
The introduction of Louis Saha at least gave the hosts an aerial threat but a draw looked certain until Pienaar stuck out his back leg for Giggs to trip over, giving Ronaldo the opportunity to claim the win.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Everton|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||17||31|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||17||17|
|15||Queens Park Rangers||17||17|