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Ferguson unhappy after United held at Everton

Manchester United wasted the chance to close on the Premier League leaders when a sloppy second half cost them in a 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday.

sports Updated: Oct 26, 2008 10:28 IST
Martyn Herman

Manchester United wasted the chance to close on the Premier League leaders when a sloppy second half cost them in a 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday.

Midfielder Darren Fletcher put the champions in front after 22 minutes and the Old Trafford side should have had the points in the bag before halftime but a second-half header by Marouane Fellaini gave Everton a deserved point.

Hull City's remarkable start to life in the top flight continued with a 3-0 win at West Bromwich Albion that put them level on 20 points at the top with leaders Chelsea and Liverpool who face each other at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. United are five points behind.

Sunderland beat Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light -- Kieran Richardson's thunderous free-kick 15 minutes from time earning Sunderland a first home victory against their north east rivals for 28 years.

The end of the match which left Newcastle second from bottom was marred by skirmishes between the rivals sets of fans and riot police moved in to restore order.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was critical of his side's second-half display, although he also accused referee Alan Wiley of failing to protect his players.

"We didn't deserve much at the end and it was a case of hanging on," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "They unsettled us in the second half and we started to give the ball away."

No protection

United striker Wayne Rooney, hoping to score his 100th goal in club football against his former side, was booked and later substituted after infuriating Everton fans by kissing the United badge on his shirt in front of them.

"The referee booked him for nothing and then the Everton fans were egging him on," Ferguson said. "I don't think he protected our players. Somebody will get a bad injury one day."

Fletcher put United ahead after taking a pass from Ryan Giggs in his stride, stepping inside Joleon Lescott and shooting past Tim Howard, who then produced sharp saves to deny Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic and Giggs.

Everton got their unexpected equaliser after 63 minutes when Fellaini showed tremendous strength to head a cross from former United player Phil Neville past Edwin van der Sar.

A mistake by United defender Rio Ferdinand almost gifted a goal to Ayegbeni Yakubu but van der Sar saved his blushes.

Hull made it four league wins in a row thanks to second half goals from Kamil Zayette, Giovanni and Marlon King.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Padraic Halpin)