Manchester United Returns To Premier League Top Four

Manchester United returned to the Premier League's top four for the first time in more than a year as Radamel Falcao's first United goal proved decisive against Everton.

Angel Di Maria's calm finish gave the hosts a lead that survived to half-time as Leighton Baines saw a penalty saved.

Baines picked out Steven Naismith to nod in an equaliser and Falcao cleared a Phil Jagielka header off the line.

But Falcao stabbed in from Di Maria's shot to grab the winner.

Everton, who have won only one of their first seven league games, could easily have taken something from the game but Bryan Oviedo, who scored the winner in the fixture last season, was denied by a tremendous stoppage-time save from David De Gea.

The Spaniard also had to be alert to keep out a late Leon Osman effort but, while United will be concerned by their vulnerability under late pressure, the result and the three points were paramount.

Their first back-to-back league wins under Louis van Gaal carry the Dutchman's side into the Champions League qualification places for the first time since they drew with Chelsea in predecessor David Moyes' second league match in charge.

With the international break, their next game is not until 20 October when they are away to West Brom and Van Gaal will hope his new-look side can consolidate their form to ensure more comfortable afternoons at Old Trafford.

United had begun in buoyant mood, making early inroads down the left with record signing Di Maria and Luke Shaw doubling up on Tony Hibbert, but the opener arrived courtesy of a delivery from the opposite flank.

Baines could only clear Rafael's cross to Juan Mata, who laid the ball into the path of Di Maria to apply a composed finish with his weaker right foot from 15 yards.

Up until that point, Everton's attempts to build attacks had floundered around Romelu Lukaku with the Belgian short of support from midfield, but they posed more of a threat after falling behind.

Lukaku's aerial presence caused concern and he darted between Paddy McNair and Marcos Rojo to fire over before Kevin Friend pointed to the spot on the stroke of half-time after a foul by Luke Shaw.

The former Southampton left-back possibly made contact with the ball but his clumsy sliding tackle on Tony Hibbert gave the referee a difficult decision to make.

However, Baines failed for the first time in 15 Premier League spot-kicks, side-footing an unconvincing shot within range of De Gea's dive.

Baines made partial amends as he picked out Naismith's late arrival into the six-yard box following a clever free-kick routine with Gareth Barry, while anxiety increased around Old Trafford as Falcao was forced into some last-ditch defending from Jagielka's effort.

But the Colombian, who had done little to impress in his fourth appearance since his loan move from Monaco, pounced on Di Maria's mis-hit to score the decisive goal.
(BBC)



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