Rooney-less Reds suffer late Goodison comeback

Manchester United conceeded two very late Everton goals as David Moyes’ side came back from 3-1 down to snatch a draw at the death. Darren Fletcher, captain Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov scored to seemingly seal United’s win on on Merseyside despite Wayne Rooney’s absence only to throw away the result in injury time.

Until the late Everton brace, United had offered a controlled performance in seeking to avenge the 3-1 loss at this ground last season but goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta in injury time sealed an unlikely point for the home side.

“Football can do that to you. We were in a comfortable position and we threw it away,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.

“Our last two away games have been like that. We lost a goal at Fulham and again today. We had four good chances to seal it and we didn’t take them. For the most part I was pleased with the performance but we’ve thrown it away today.

“We played some good football at times and I thought Berbatov was brilliant but that doesn’t matter if we throw it away. He is a great player, and again today he had some great moments.”

Rooney though will continue to make the headlines but for few of the reasons expected after Sir Alex Ferguson left the former Evertonian out of United’s squad at Goodison Park. With the furore over the striker’s private life dominating the build up Ferguson, citing Goodison crowd abuse, chose to protect Rooney against many expectations.

Ferguson has rarely shielded his players in such a fashion before; Paul Ince returned to Upton Park and Eric Cantona to Ellend Road, and Gary Neville cannot receive any more abuse that he earns at Anfield, for example. Indeed, it is tempting to conclude that the manager has laid down a marker to his star player. With the Red shirt comes a responsibility that Rooney’s (alleged) behaviour does not match.

Initially Rooney’s absence seemed to affect the Scot’s planning, with Ferguson selecting a 4-5-1 system for the first time this season; Berbatov deployed up-front on his own with support from Ryan Giggs and Nani on the flanks.

If the attempt to quell the Goodison crowd took some of the heat out of the fixture then Moyes’ side did its best to raise the home spirits by dominating the opening minutes. Everton, buoyed by a vociferous crowd, started well with United struggling to retain the ball in the opening minutes.

Initially, Berbatov, Giggs and Nani were unable to hold the ball up front as Everton created chances to take an early lead. But with no strikers on the pitch – Leon Osman and Tim Cahill provided an alternative attacking threat – the home side failed to convert chances into goals. It almost defined the match until Everton’s late double.

Eventually in Rooney’s absence, with two chances inside three minutes, United clawed its way back into the game. First the recalled Gary Neville’s long ball eventually fell to Berbatov who failed to convert the chance. Then John O’Shea, selected in central midfield, sweetly struck a half volley that hit the frame of the goal on the quarter-hour.

Nani confirmed he bleeds red, suffering a cut mouth in a challenge by Everton’s Steven Pienaar. All in the cause, with Nani showing the progression he has made in the past year by continually tracking back to offer Neville defensive support, even if early crosses from wide areas went astray.

Fletcher, all energy, offered United’s most attacking threat from central midfield. The Scot was the only of the Reds’ three to continually run ahead of the ball. It was the midfielder’s long run that almost fashioned a chance for Berbatov to open the scoring.

Everton remained a threat though, and the home side took the lead on the break just as United finally gained a foothold in the match. Arteta’s long run forced 39-year-old Edwin van der Sar to smartly save only for Pienaar to eventually slide home the rebound.

Then shortly before half-time Ferguson’s side was level, with Fletcher scoring from Nani’s wonderful cross. The Scot’s running from midfield again proving influential.

If the old adage that scoring just before half-time takes the wind out of the opposition sales, then United’s second just after the break deflated the crowd too. Such a simple goal, with Nani again crossing for the unmarked Vidic to head home from close range.

In two goals the Portuguese showed why he can both be a most effective but frustrating player; the brilliance matched earlier by two shanked crosses into the Goodison stands. The winger should perhaps have sealed United’s win just after the hour, with Berbatov’s break and pass opening up a chance for Nani to strike past Tim Howard in Everton’s net.

Nani’s scuffed finish would only matter later. First, Paul Scholes brilliantly found Berbatov with a raking cross-field pass and the Bulgarian hit the net with a sumptuous finish twenty minutes from time.

Wayne who?

Then the dénouement as Everton scored twice in the final two minutes to snatch a late draw when the game should have been put to bed. Indeed, Berbatov and then Nani each had outstanding chances to put United into a surely unassailable 4-1 lead.

But for the second time this season the Reds threw away a lead in the final minutes as two crosses found Vidic, Jonny Evans and company wanting. On such details are titles won and lost.

Match facts

United: van der Sar; Neville, Vidic, Evans, Evra (Park, 81); Nani, Scholes, O’Shea, Fletcher, Giggs.

Man-of-the-match: Dimitar Berbatov
Attendance: 36,556

Possession: Everton 46% – 54% United
Attempts: 23 – 13
On target: 14 – 8
Corners: 7 – 5
Fouls: 11 – 18

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Comments

  1. Jon says

    nightmare to throw away another 2 points like that, it might be early but these arent the signs that usually point towards championships.

    on another note nani seemed to be having a good game and then fell away in the last 30 minutes as he became wasteful, not picking park out looks even worse now.

  2. Bill says

    It has to be said that playing O’Shea in the middle of midfield is a risk. It also meant that a returning Neville had to play at right back. Playing Rafael and Nani on the same wing could have been risky too away from home.

  3. Nameonthetrophy says

    this is the 2nd time nani’s wasteful finishing has cost united 2 points..
    i really hope berbatov can stay on this level.. he’s looking good..
    gutted manutd drew.. but when Rio/Rooney/Anderson/Carrick are back..things will only improve..

    • mongoletsi says

      What? Anderson is only around because he got injured prior to being shipped out, and Carrick has had one good season.

      Nani is looking like a decent player after all – carrying on his form from 2nd half last season.

      Berba… finally. Finally. I actually feel for him, not winning today.

      We’re all pointing fingers, but maybe we should be praising Cahill.

      It’s “Utd” btw, which proves you ain’t got a clue sunshine ;o)

  4. danniitronix says

    manager continues to be thick – Scholes can’t do shit after 80 mins onward, so it’s obvious support him or sub him, letting cunts like arteta have shots like that is asking for a slap when our defence is so brittle; someone shld have been onto him like a rash

    the most important player is Rio not Rooney; again today shows that but please continue to wank of Shrek

    do we need further proof of the goaly problem? instead of wasting money on street kids why doesn’t / didn’t Taggart fucking sort that out. It’s bad enough that our defence is fucked without Rio but with the aging VDS it’s a fucking liablity – sloppy, complacent and distinctly lacking in organisation and quality

    • mongoletsi says

      Again, gotta say “what?” VDS is far from a liability. We must’ve been watching a different game.

      Rio remains CLASS. But only if fit, and paying attention!

      “Manager continues to be thick”? Riiiiiight.

      Agreed on Scholes front but then he’s not meant to be defending with Fletch and O’Shea in the team.

      O’Shea, central? Dear lord. Why Taggart continues to place such confidence in him is beyond me. Handy util player, but should not be a key figure against a quality Everton side fired up at Goodison…

  5. dozer says

    “Indeed, Berbatov and then Nani each had outstanding chances to put United into a surely unassailable 4-1 lead.”

    surely unassailable? Everton could have scored with a better attempt seconds after the ref blew his whistle. Technically there were 30 seconds left to play.

    Our defence has had a horrible few minutes today, but yeah, it happens once in a while. What riles me is that our team had 2 easy oppurtunities lost due to complacence, and our two main contributors are guilty. Titles can be lost due to such moments; bad form can be explained, but complacence must be punished.

    • says

      Dozer – van der Sar saved it and the ball was kicked out. Everton’s beef with that made no sense. United could have broken up the other end and scored and then Moyes would have gone mental for that.

  6. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    danniitronix said:
    manager continues to be thick – Scholes can’t do shit after 80 mins onward, so it’s obvious support him or sub him, letting cunts like arteta have shots like that is asking for a slap when our defence is so brittle; someone shld have been onto him like a rash

    the most important player is Rio not Rooney; again today shows that but please continue to wank of Shrek

    do we need further proof of the goaly problem? instead of wasting money on street kids why doesn’t / didn’t Taggart fucking sort that out. It’s bad enough that our defence is fucked without Rio but with the aging VDS it’s a fucking liablity – sloppy, complacent and distinctly lacking in organisation and quality

    WTF are you talking about?

    It was a shit result… but the individuals that your singling out for blame is just fucking ridiculous.

    Scholes can’t defend, never could… after 10 minutes or 90… doesn’t matter… he had a another excellent game… period!

    And VDS had no chance on either of their second or third… instead of criticising him, why not just say the marking was rubbish?

    And it’s the height of stupidity to mention Rooney for a game he didn’t even play in.

  7. dozer says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    WTF are you talking about?

    It was a shit result… but the individuals that your singling out for blame is just fucking ridiculous.

    Scholes can’t defend, never could… after 10 minutes or 90… doesn’t matter… he had a another excellent game… period!

    And VDS had no chance on either of their second or third… instead of criticising him, why not just say the marking was rubbish?

    And it’s the height of stupidity to mention Rooney for a game he didn’t even play in.

    VDS as always was our only player who looked like a united player today. All our oldies in fact. Maybe we should extend their contracts to retain any hope of a future.
    Fuck.

    • mongoletsi says

      Apart from the excellent Berba, plus above “decent” Fletch & Nani (despite his miss) you mean?

      Evra. Evra was poor today. Really poor. How often can you say that tho? The whole defence was a bit crap really. Enjoyed Nemanja’s tussles with Cahill :o) Gary was alright on his comeback I thought, but Evans was unusually poor – I rate him highly. I always think Evans+Vidic is better than Evans+Rio so a bit let down…

      I feared today – Everton are a very good team, look at that midfield. I thought a point would be the outcome. Didn’t expect it to end like this though.

  8. Stephen Morris says

    Alright, we didn’t get the results against Fulham or Everton. But these were 2 teams who spanked us last year so I am going to(naively) focus on us being 2 points better off this season than we were last season. Good to see Berba having another good game. On a separate note, says a lot for Gibson when big Rick is chosen in centre mid ahead of him.

  9. Mark says

    Clearly we lack a defensive midfield player when we play Scholes, and the 4-5-1 formation. John O’shea played there today for most of the game and it all went to shit when SAF moved him to left back. He has been waiting on Hagreaves for years now… Time to move on!!!

  10. Bill says

    Stephen makes an interesting point. However Chelsea are beating sides with military efficiency. They won’t be throwing away leads like we have against Fulham and Everton.

    As advertised 2nd is the most likely outcome for United with City having teething problems, Liverpool poor and Arsenal/Spurs lacking the big match temperament/experience.

  11. sheesh says

    danniitronix said:
    manager continues to be thick – Scholes can’t do shit after 80 mins onward, so it’s obvious support him or sub him, letting cunts like arteta have shots like that is asking for a slap when our defence is so brittle; someone shld have been onto him like a rash

    the most important player is Rio not Rooney; again today shows that but please continue to wank of Shrek

    do we need further proof of the goaly problem? instead of wasting money on street kids why doesn’t / didn’t Taggart fucking sort that out. It’s bad enough that our defence is fucked without Rio but with the aging VDS it’s a fucking liablity – sloppy, complacent and distinctly lacking in organisation and quality
    </blockquote

    I’m sorry but there’s no way you can criticise the keeper for our pathetic capitulation today. Once again, we drew a game we should have won because we got complacent.

    Oh, and unlike others on here, I wouldn’t blame our attacking players for surrendering a 3-1 lead in injury time.

    I can’t believe the amount of bollocks being spouted on this forum. Spike being on here would be a partial explanation for this.

  12. danniitronix says

    carrick yes but anderson is 9 times of 10 a drag factor and Fletcher has enough to do by doing the running for scholes too

  13. danniitronix says

    sheesh said:
    I’m sorry but there’s no way you can criticise the keeper for our pathetic capitulation today. Once again, we drew a game we should have won because we got complacent.

    Has everyone already forgotten the Arsenal away game from last season when we suddenly looked a bit vulnerable as Arsenal pulled a goal back to make it 1-3?

    Has everyone already forgotten the Roma home game way back when we won 7-1? Were you all sitting comfortably even we where 3-0 or 4-0 up? Of course you weren’t because, fantastic as we can be, we all know what this team is capable of doing in terms of making life hard for ourselves.

    Does the Bayern Munich game at home from last season not mean anything? What happened before half time when we seemed to be coasting at 3-0?

    Everyone talks about players not being good enough, tactics, substitutions. What a load of shite. It always boils down to us switching off. I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face.

    Fergie always jokes about us making life difficult for ourselves. It’s no laughing matter, Fergie!

    Oh, and unlike others on here, I wouldn’t blame our attacking players for surrendering a 3-1 lead in injury time like we did yesterday. You score 3 goals at Goodison Park and should expect to close the game out.

    I can’t believe the amount of bollocks being spouted on this forum. Spike being on here would be a partial explanation for this.

    defence was shit: prove that wrong

    roma is different: watch CR in that game and link play from front to back

    no rio means we need a leader at the back: VDS too old, not up to it can’t control the two infront of him, causes instablity and people shitting their pants; lack of coordination, communication and ideas – Rio can’t do it all by himself, VDS has failed yet again to step up to the plate considering he is so mature and experienced. he is not motivated and does not give a fuck

    defence starts in midfield and fletch cannot do the work of scholes too after 70 mins; fergie is thick and does not realise that – he thinks Vidic, VDS and Evans can survive the last 15 mins of the game; they can’t – one is an old cunt, the other is a bit thick and the other is too young; plus they get no help from the middle of the park as fletcher is fucked trying to cover the ground that Scholes cannot

    it’s so obvious

  14. sheesh says

    FFS…

    The defence was shite because we switched off as we thought the game was won.

    Would you be complaining if we had won the game? Of course you wouldn’t! For 91 mins, the match was all but over. We were superb yesterday for most of the game and I highly doubt that you would be moaning about us relying on Scholes and Van der Sar if we’d won the match.

    What’s Ronaldo got to do with the Roma match? My point was that, regardless of how many goals we scored, you always suspected that we’d shoot ourselves in the foot and concede. For quite some time now, we have tended to switch off/get complacent (call it what you will) when it’s looked comfortable for us.

    Pound for pound, I think that we are every bit as good as Chelsea but, unfortunately, being sloppy/complacent is in our DNA.

  15. danniitronix says

    but when we won the league we had the best defence – the Roma game showed that if you have enough firepower defence is less important but when you don’t have enought fire power because one of your players is cocking about, then other components of your game become relatively more critical such as

    - constantly dynamic and strong midfield to protect the back four plus goaly
    - consistently focussed and organised back three
    - a fucking manager who can see that we just get overrun in the last 20 mins which pressurises the individuals to make mistakes

    the difference between you and me is that you think that the complacency and lack of concentration comes because it’s in our DNA

    i think that it is because of tactics and weak players (relatively speaking)

    tactics – Scholes in last 20 mins cannot run and close down, hell he can’t even foul the opposition. that leads to Fletcher having to come either deeper or more foward to cover the space – as we have no DM at the moment cos Hargo is spacked and Carrick has lost a gonad, it means that the central three – evans, vidic and VDS are more exposed.

    now you can last 40mins – 60mins – 80 mins – but tiredness and lack of skill comes into it. a 39 year old VDS cannot possibly do the job of organising the exposed defence for 90 mins solid; Evans could not even do that period, which just leaves Vidic. Vidic can’t do it because he’s not had the experience of captaining and marshalling the defence

    the pressure builds and builds until we crack – that is tactics against a weakening midfield and an exposed defence

    it’s SO obvious it’s not even funny, you think Neverton can get a draw, what the fuck are the Chavs or dare I say it RM or Barca gonna do to us.

    we lack power on midfield, we lack resources and it puts pressure on the defence.

    a 39 year old VDS is brilliant with Rio sharing the work with him. Take Rio out, and it’s a very different game as we have seen so early in this season.

    as for last season, let’s not forget that losing the league by one point does not tell half the story. we lacked the killer instinct because we never had the platform to go out and destroy opposition – why as our defence as a patchwork – at one point we had Carrick and Fletcher in defence, with Kuschask / Foster, are you fucking serious? You telling me that that never contributed to us not winning the title – it was a miracle that it was only a one point difference but that was because the Chavs and Arsenal wanked up, rather than us making a big move to “win” the prize.

    again, defence is not good enough
    midfield not good enough
    so unless rooney and berba (and street kid), start hammering the fuck out the opposition, this does not look great at all

    finally, the point is not that we don’t have quality, rather the opposition’s quality has got better.

  16. sheesh says

    Danni, you cannot deny that for 91 mins in that match we played well enough to win the game comfortably. You still haven’t addressed my point that, had we won the game, you would not be complaining about the midfield as you are now. Be honest with yourself.

    Regardless of whether Chelsea lost games last season, regardless of defensive injury problems we had, you cannot deny that DESPITE these circumstances we were still in a great position to retain the title last season going into the final strait. Had we beaten Blackburn or avoided defeat to Chelsea, you would not be hiding behind the excuse of injuries to defenders. Nobody would be talking about these excuses.

    But we bottled it in the final strait. Fact.

    Now, does our midfield need to be looked at? Of course.
    Do we need to find a replacement for Van der Sar? Yes, eventually.

    However, you cannot cite these deficiencies in our side as reasons for why we dropped points at Everton because they are completely incorrect and irrelevant. Van der Sar couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals. Scholes was arguably one of the best players on the pitch and is not a defensive midfielder. Answer me this, for 91 mins were we or we not worthy of our 3-1 lead?

    At Fulham, we twice surrendered a lead due to poor defending. We switched off at the end because we thought the game was in the bag, even though it was 2-1 and we’d just missed a penalty. At Everton, we switched off at 3-1 and underestimated the resilience of the opposition and their willingness to fight to the end. Spot a pattern?

    Even we’re winning matches we have a tendency to arse about and take our foot off the gas.

    Ultimately, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I’m sure this won’t be the last time this season where we switch off late in the game. Then I’ll be interested to see what you have to say.

  17. danniitronix says

    nope, no way in hell does any player or Fergus underestimate the resilience or skill of the opposition. not a chance, we have done it so many times to the opposition it is unreal. if you don’t concentrate and work hard for 94 mins, expect to have your arse kicked.

    i have no doubt every player knows that and has been on the receiving end of a big kick up the arse whether it is in the reserves or a full first team game. the fact that you have vds, scholes, neville, oshea and giggs who have delivered killer blows to opposition time and time again in the last minutes must mean that we know how to fight to the end.

    not look at the Fulham game and look at yesterday’s game. See anyone being lazy, not running or generally not giving a shit.

    no, what you see is the look of ABSOLUTE FEAR, running around like headless chickens looking at each other thinking who the fuck is marking who, why isn’t someone in the space, do I go forward to challenge or do I stay back and defend. It is not we have another 10 minutes so let’s keep possession, rather it’s we have another 10 mins – WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO WITH THE BALL.

    it’s clear to me there is a lack of power and energy in midfield that puts too much pressure on a defence that cannot hack it for 90mins and BANG we loose our mental edge and can be put to the sword.

    the face that troll face, Gollum, Moyes had the nerve to have a go at the ref to let play carry on so that they could finally finish us hugely telling. Neverton were actually thinking about killing us off, ffs, the audacity of it!!

    Scholes cannot do it for 90mins, nor can Fletcher as he needs to cover two men. It was a mistake to put in OShea because in the end he neither covers the ground or has the skill to position himself correctly. It was a mistake to let Scholes carry on too much. This led to pressure on the defence and our defence in current form lacks the skill to cope with the last 15mins when if the opposition are up for it, they can smash holes in it.

    when carrick comes back and if he regains form, that will improve matters.

    if anderson gets a chance, and he takes it, that will be a plus.

    when rio comes back, there is no doubt that the defence will have the skill to cope
    with a weakening energyless midfield as the game goes on, not just because of his ability but because he is the captain and he can get people organised and fighting

    it is the last 15 mins when a captain is worth his weight in gold, you either put a team to the sword or you defend your win. giggs, scholes, vds, neville, oshea know this too well but they were found wanting, not because they lack effort but because they are no longer able to last 90 mins with same degree of skill and mental strength. and unless they are refreshed on a regular basis, it will not get better.

  18. Nicorn7 says

    The saddest part of this game for me was the fact that Everton did to us what we normally do to every other team in Europe. Snatch a result at the death. Everton out-Manchester United, Manchester United :(

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