Premier League: Manchester United 2 Everton 0
By Football News
Manchester United defeated Everton 2-0 on Sunday to move 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with 12 games to play.
United manager Alex Ferguson, perhaps with a tricky Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming on Wednesday, made three changes, Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs all coming into the team.
Everton, meanwhile, brought former United man Phil Neville back but also required a late defensive change after Sylvain Distin dropped out in the warm-up, Johnny Heitinga his replacement
The hosts began the game strongly and might have taken the lead as early as the 10th minute.
Rafael and Wayne Rooney combined to free up Robin van Persie, who rounded goalkeeper Tim Howard but could only hit the post with the goal gaping.
Minutes later, however, Ryan Giggs made no mistake, opening the scoring and continuing his outstanding record of netting in every Premier League season.
Antonio Valencia's pass was headed down by Van Persie and into the Welshman's path, who calmly took a touch before slotting it past Howard and in off the post.
Everton came right back into the game and could have equalised on the half-hour mark.
A great piece of play saw Steven Pienaar find Leon Osman, whose fierce strike was creeping into the corner before a flying David de Gea pushed it around the post.
From the resulting corner United required another superb piece of defending to preserve their lead as Vidic bravely threw himself in front of Kevin Mirallas's shot.
Mirallas then almost set up Victor Anichebe.
The Belgian's cross from the right however was just behind the striker, allowing Rafael to hack it out of play for a corner.
The visitors were made to rue those misses when United doubled their lead right on the stroke of half-time.
Again Rafael was involved, dinking the ball through to Van Persie, who beat the offside trap, rounded Howard again and this time made no mistake, despite the valiant attempts of Heitinga on the line.
The second half was a more subdued affair, with chances few and far between, and United having the better of the opportunities.
A Van Persie corner from the right was met by Evans and saved by Howard.
However, the ball came back out to the defender, causing an almighty goalmouth scramble which somehow the visitors managed to clear for another corner.
The ball in was cleared as far as the lurking Tom Cleverley, who smashed a superb volley goalward, only to be denied by a magnificent save by Howard.
As time ticked away Van Persie dragged a shot wide after being set up by Giggs, before De Gea saved well from Nikica Jelavic but there was to be no late show from the Toffees this time as United stood firm to take all three points.