United pass Toffees test
Nemanja Vidic's header earned Man Utd a 1-0 win as the champions toiled against Everton at Goodison Park.
Last Updated: 15/09/07 4:10pm
Nemanja Vidic's header earned Manchester United a third successive 1-0 win as the champions toiled against a spirited Everton at Goodison Park.
The Serbian defender, who was the game's stand-out performer, nodded in at the near post six minutes from time in a match which was far from easy on the eye.
With chances at a premium, Everton debutant Stefan Wessels was rarely tested in goal, with Paul Scholes having wasted the visitors' best opportunity.
Prior to that Scholes had been on hand to deny Everton a goal early in the second half when the midfielder cleared Andy Johnson's header off the line, while Edwin van der Sar saved late on from James McFadden, with Rio Ferdinand denying Victor Anichebe from the rebound.
The scoreline was harsh on the home team, but if titles are won by grinding out results of this nature, then United are developing a crucial habit.
After a cagey opening, Carlos Tevez released Patrice Evra with one magnificent pass inside Tony Hibbert, only for the Frenchman to fire into the side-netting.
Although United gradually assumed control in a swift-moving encounter, David Moyes' men succeeded in restricting them to a series of long-range efforts, with Michael Carrick among those to try his luck.
Vidic lost his balance at just the wrong time when Ryan Giggs dropped a corner into his path and the Serbian was already slipping to the floor when he skidded a shot wide.
Everton could be pleased with their defensive efforts though, and while Johnson and Yakubu lacked support at times, they were quite dangerous at the other end too.
Indeed, had Yakubu not been hauled back by referee Alan Wiley for a debatable push on Wes Brown, the Nigerian would have been clean through.
Wiley had a difficult day. If he was not annoying the home fans by handing United dubious free-kicks, he was upsetting Scholes by appearing to take more notice of the crowd than his own eyes when penalising the former England man for handball.
Scholes took exception to the decision and punched the ball away in frustration. Wiley immediately produced a yellow card and within seconds was being implored to brandish a red as Scholes wiped out Arteta near the United box.
Instead, the official called Scholes out to administer a final warning.
If the opening period had been short on goalmouth action, an expectant crowd did not have to wait long for a genuine chance in the second as Johnson rose to guide Arteta's corner towards the far post, only for Scholes to volley off the line.
Scholes was certainly in the thick of things and, when Tevez combined brilliantly with Giggs to set the midfielder up with a potential goal of the season, the midfielder could only thrash his volley over.
Tevez actually came closer with a long-range effort on the hour, the failure of which heralded the introduction of Saha for Giggs.
The move did stretch Everton's defence more than it had been previously, but they continued to hold Ferguson's team at bay, United's frustrations only increased by a yellow card issued to Ronaldo for a dive inside the area under pressure from Leon Osman.
Yet, just as it appeared time was ticking down to yet another blank day for United, up popped Vidic at the near post to power home Nani's corner.
Belatedly, Everton threw men forward looking for an equaliser and Scotland's midweek hero James McFadden had a shot magnificently saved by Van der Sar before Rio Ferdinand blocked Victor Anichebe's follow-up.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||3|
|5||Shots off Target||7|