United paint canvas deep red

 

With seven minutes remaining, at a point when Manchester United were deciding whether they should amble up field and score again, the unnatural silence which had settled over Goodison Park was pierced by one guttural interjection.

"Come on Everton, play with pride," implored a man in a blue-and-white scarf before staring down at feet which had shuffled nervously all afternoon by way of acknowledging that his advice would probably go unheeded.

With the benefit of hindsight, it has to be said that Walter Smith's team did play with pride.

"The problem was that we just couldn't score early in the second half when we were in the ascendancy," said Smith. Well, that was one of the problems. Everton twice hit the woodwork during the second half but those efforts ultimately came to represent isolated flecks of colour on a canvas which United had smeared with red.

In fact before Dwight Yorke nudged United in front from close range on 14 minutes the Mersey-siders had bounded around like a petulant child at a birthday party.

But once Craig Short had risen to head a David Beckham cross beyond his own goalkeeper midway through the first period there was never going to be any way back.

Having allowed Ferguson to head his side back into contention, United shifted up through the gears and by the 65th minute Everton were broken. Superbly taken goals by Andy Cole and Jesper Blomqvist suggested that Everton had not been given a lesson in football, more a simple education in finishing.

Everton have threatened to ban for life supporters who land the club in trouble with the Football Association. The United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was subjected to a barrage of bottles and other objects during the second half on Saturday and the incident will be in the referee's match report.

Everton: Myhre, Ball, Dacourt, Watson, Unsworth, Collins, Ferguson, Short (Dunne 67), Materazzi, Bakayoko, Cadamarteri. Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Cleland, Grant, Milligan. Booked: Short, Ball, Bakayoko, Unsworth. Goals: Ferguson 30.

Manchester United: Schmeichel, G Neville, Stam, Beckham, Cole, P. Neville (Irwin 67), Blomqvist, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Brown. Subs Not Used: Cruyff, Van Der Gouw, Solskjaer, Berg. Booked: Keane, G Neville, Scholes. Goals: Yorke 14, Short 23 og, Cole 59, Blomqvist 64.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).