Everton have now beaten Chelsea and Manchester United in successive Premier League matches, and both victories were well deserved.
The home side were not favourites here after losing Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill to injury, yet they did most of the attacking in the second half and Dan Gosling’s late goal was fair reward even before Jack Rodwell added a third in the last minute.
United brought Dimitar Berbatov back to partner Wayne Rooney in attack and, all too predictably, the England striker’s roaring run of form came to a whispering halt, although that could simply have been because Rooney is generally subdued on visits to his old club.
Everton, too, had a striker facing his former club, though Louis Saha was up front on his own and, when he tested Edwin van der Sar from 30 yards out, his effort produced a decent save –though it seemed to sum up the home side’s lack of attacking options.
United went in front a minute after that, Sylvain Distin failing to cut out Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right and making rather a present of it to Berbatov, who scored off the underside of the bar, with Rooney a foot behind him practically pointing the way.
An ominous hush descended on Goodison, yet it took Everton only three more minutes to equalise in spectacular fashion. Johnny Heitinga’s hoofed clearance from the back was disputed by Saha and Jonny Evans, and the ball ran clear to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who controlled it, looked up and struck a left-foot shot so cleanly that Van der Sar never even moved in its direction, despite being beaten from well outside the area.
Patrice Evra made a brave block to deny the Russian again when Leighton Baines crossed from the left, though Rooney wasted a good chance by taking the ball too wide around Tim Howard after being played in by Berbatov. Fletcher glanced wide with a header from Evra’s cross as United failed to work Howard, before substitute Gosling produced the breakthrough that shattered United’s resolve with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Everton, too, could have had another goal by half-time had Landon Donovan been quicker to react to another Baines cross. The American seemed surprised when the ball landed at his feet off Wes Brown and, from an excellent position in front of goal, managed only to pass the ball straight to Van der Sar.
Substitute Gosling’s goal came after a period of Everton pressure, when Donovan slipped Steven Pienaar down the left to pull the ball back from the byline. Just to prove it was no fluke, Everton repeated the move two minutes later, only for Mikel Arteta to supply an air shot rather than a slick finish.
No matter. Rodwell’s solo run and clean strike in the final minute emphasised Everton’s superiority.