Ronaldo on the spot in Utd win
Edwin van der Sar set a new Football League record as Manchester United earned a 1-0 win over Everton.
Last Updated: 31/01/09 8:02pm
Edwin van der Sar set a new Football League record as Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty earned Manchester United a 1-0 win over Everton.
Ronaldo's spot-kick late in the first half, after Michael Carrick had been felled, enabled United to open up a five-point gap at the top of the table.
And a further cause of cheer for the reigning champions was a 12th consecutive Premier League clean sheet for United keeper Van der Sar, which broke a record which had stood for 30 years.
Former United keeper Tim Howard showed smart reflexes after just 13 minutes as he stuck out a foot to turn Carlos Tevez's shot over the bar.
The post came to Everton's rescue on 26 minutes as Ronaldo's toe-poke came back off the upright and Tevez was offside as he tried to tuck home the rebound.
The breakthrough arrived a minute before half-time when a piece of skill from Carrick lulled Mikel Arteta into tripping the England midfielder just inside the box and Ronaldo stepped up to stroke home the penalty.
Carrick had a claim for another penalty early in the second half turned down by referee Mark Halsey after a challenge by Joleon Lescott, while the Everton defender pleaded for a late spot-kick after tussling with Rio Ferdinand.
The pattern of play was established as early as the fourth minute when Marouane Fellaini's foul on Carrick gave Ronaldo a chance to go for goal from 30 yards but he drilled his effort straight into the wall.
Everton's Belgian midfielder committed his second foul at the other end when he pushed over Nemanja Vidic in trying to reach Leighton Baines' cross into the six-yard area.
In the seventh minute, Howard had to get down quickly to his right to tip the ball wide of the goal after Park Ji-Sung's low inswinging cross was left by the Everton defence.
Howard then denied his former club a certain goal when he somehow diverted Tevez's close-range shot over the crossbar as United increased the pressure.
When Everton did get a chance to threaten, from Leon Osman's 17th-minute right-wing corner, Van der Sar claimed easily.
Tim Cahill, usually so good in the air, was winning little of the ball against Rio Ferdinand despite Everton's attempts to reach him at every opportunity.
United, however, were having no problems creating chances and almost scored in the 25th minute when Ronaldo's toe-poke from just outside the area rebounded back off a post but as Tevez tried to convert the rebound he was flagged for offside.
The Portugal winger came close again two minutes later when Howard tipped over a long-range shot.
Carrick was next to try his luck but his volley from the left of the penalty area was just wide of the target.
But United finally made the breakthrough in the 44th minute. Carrick had gone past Arteta but the Spaniard hung out a trailing leg behind him and it caught the midfielder, who fell in the area.
After a moment's hesitation referee Halsey pointed to the spot and Ronaldo despatched his shot straight down the middle.
Just after the interval Steven Pienaar won a free-kick off Vidic but Arteta sliced the 35-yard effort horribly wide.
Moments later Carrick could have been awarded another penalty when he nicked John O'Shea's incisive through-ball past Lescott but despite the defender catching him Halsey waved away United's justifiable claims.
Tevez then blazed well wide from Park's right-wing cross as United looked to turn their dominance into a second goal.
The Argentina striker tried his luck with a low curling shot from the edge of the area but Howard saved comfortably.
United still had to be wary of Everton's set-piece prowess but Van der Sar was more than up to the challenge of dealing with Arteta's low 35-yard free-kick.
The visitors' problem was that they had not really tested the United goalkeeper and Everton manager David Moyes, who is currently without three strikers, had very little available on the bench to change that.
The 68th-minute introduction of Victor Anichebe for Fellaini was at least an attempt to freshen things up as Cahill dropped into an attacking midfield role to allow the youngster a run as centre-forward.
And Tevez's deflected free-kick almost put paid to those plans with Howard having to tip over the looping shot from under his own crossbar.
But there was still the odd scare for the hosts and Everton were screaming for a penalty when Lescott went down in a wrestling match with Ferdinand but Halsey was not convinced.
With those claims went the Toffees' hopes of snatching a draw - however undeserved - from the match.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Everton|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||4|