McCarthy leads the way as United endure another grim Goodison day

Resurgent Everton enjoy biggest win against outplayed Reds since 1992

Everton’s James McCarthy  scores past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea during the 3-0 win at Goodison Park.  Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP

Everton’s James McCarthy scores past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea during the 3-0 win at Goodison Park. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP

 

The Grim Reaper appeared at Goodison Park to accompany David Moyes to his end as Manchester United manager 12 months ago. This time Louis van Gaal scythed through his players for a lack of “motivation, inspiration and aggression” as their hold weakened on automatic entry into next season’s Champions League. Everton revelled in their latest brand of torment.

The ramifications of a comprehensive Goodison defeat will not be as severe for Van Gaal as they were for his predecessor last April but this was a galling afternoon for a United team weak in defence and devoid of penetration in attack.

At best, their claims on a top-three finish have been undermined by a second successive Premier League defeat. At worst, the Old Trafford side have offered Liverpool a glimmer of hope in the pursuit of Champions League qualification and could be without Wayne Rooney for an extended period with a knee injury.

Van Gaal pointed the finger at a complacent attitude throughout the visiting ranks but Everton out-thought and outplayed their in-form opponents en route to their biggest win over United since 1992.

“I think it was the most disappointing performance because it is the first time that I have seen our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not as high as the opponent. In sport you shall always be compared to your opponent and that was the reason,” he said.

Improving campaign

James McCarthy struck an early breakthrough, John Stones glanced home his first Everton goal and the substitute Kevin Mirallas sealed his team’s fifth win in an impressive six-game unbeaten run. There were striking parallels to Everton’s performance in the corresponding fixture last season. Martínez’s team sat deep and were content for United to dominate possession, yet were the more incisive, clinical team when they had the ball.

Everton were sharp and aggressive from the opening whistle, with Ireland international McCarthy, looking leaner and quicker than he did on his return from a series of hamstring injuries, and Ross Barkley to the fore.

Martínez’s decision to recall Leon Osman on the left of midfield with instructions to track Juan Mata’s runs inside was another factor in the visitors’ struggle to open up their hosts.

Only five minutes had elapsed when Gareth Barry cleared a United corner and allowed his fellow central midfielder to lead a devastating counterattack.

McCarthy sent Seamus Coleman away down the right – a potent outlet for Everton all afternoon – and though Paddy McNair stopped the full back’s cross from reaching Romelu Lukaku, his touch fell invitingly to McCarthy, who surged through the weakest of challenges from McNair and Daley Blind inside the area, before tucking a neat finish inside David de Gea’s far corner.

United should have been level within two minutes only for Marouane Fellaini to squander a gilt-edged chance against his former club. In contrast to a frosty return to Goodison 12 months ago, the midfielder was afforded a warm reception from his old supporters at kick-off. Their appreciation increased on seven minutes when he blazed over from 18 yards.

Early booking

Everton’s third telling break down their right flank resulted in Chris Smalling conceding a corner from another Coleman delivery. United cleared Leighton Baines’s first driven cross to the near post, did the same with his second but switched off at the third corner from the England left back. Stones stole a march on the dawdling Antonio Valencia and steered an unstoppable header beyond De Gea. The pattern remained unchanged despite the introduction of Falcao and Ángel Di María in the second half. Tim Howard prevented Rooney hauling United back in the game from close range and saved comfortably from a Falcao header but, for all their possession, the visitors offered little pace or penetration up front.

They were undone by their interpretation of the offside law as Everton extended their lead with 16 minutes remaining. Lukaku stopped when Barkley’s chipped pass forward found the centre forward in a clear offside position. United’s defence paused too, but not the onside Mirallas who sprinted on to the loose ball and finished confidently.

Rooney then limped off after colliding with the otherwise ineffectual Blind. A painful end to another grim Goodison trip. Guardian Service

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