The excruciating wait is finally over as the Premier League returns to enthrall millions around the globe. Manchester United are back too and surely with vengeance on their minds after the gut wrenching experience of surrendering the crown to their despised neighbours. Nevertheless, City can wait as there are others battles to be won beforehand. First battle takes Sir Alex’s side to Goodison Park and there could hardly be any sterner test of their title credentials on the opening day.
Merseyside clubs have done well against Manchester United lately and it was David Moyes’ Everton that dented United’s title bid last season in a dramatic 4-4 draw at Old Trafford. The Red Devils have had mixed fortunes at Goodison in the recent past – some memorable and season defining trips, while some agonizing defeats that remain etched in memory for the scars they leave.
THT takes a trip down memory lane and looks back at some of the Everton- Manchester United clashes of the Premier League era that still remain fresh in the minds of United fans.
Everton 0-1 Manchester United (1993-94)
United went into the game at the top of the standings, winning four games on the bounce and on top of their form. Everton, on the other hand, were having a topsy-turvy campaign which eventually ended with the Toffees finishing just two points above the relegation zone. However, contrary to what most predicted based on the form of both teams, the game was anything but a one-sided affair. In fact, it was the underdogs that made all the running and were unlucky to lose the game in the end to a stunning volley from Lee Sharpe, making it one of the most memorable trips for the Reds’ faithful just for the goal.
The home side looked determined from the outset and took the game to the champions, stretching Fergie’s men to their limits on more than a few occasions. But thankfully for the league-leaders, Peter Schmeichel was brilliant as he, in addition to some important saves, made two astonishing one-one-one blocks to deny the Everton strikers. Manchester United were by far the second best team on the pitch and, as was most often the case those days, a moment of brilliance left the opponents helpless.
The visitors got a rare opportunity to attack the Everton goal but the cross from left hand side was headed weakly towards the edge of the area. Time seemed to stand still, as three United players stood under the dropping ball but there was always going to be one shooter. Lee Sharpe brushed aside his team mates and threw the proverbial kitchen sink on the volley with his left foot as the ball flew into the back of the net leaving the keeper stranded and the away fans in raptures.
Everton 1-4 Manchester United (1998-99)
One of the few occasions when the then 12 time Premier League champions have managed to run riot in Everton’s backyard. Manchester United stood second in the standings ahead of this game but were in good scoring form as they had already scored 19 league goals in 9 games despite two shut-outs at West Ham and Arsenal.
And it was United, who started the game brightly and raced to an early goal from Dwight Yorke following a free-flowing move giving United the lead. The lead was soon doubled as a wonderful cross from David Beckham was bizarrely headed into his own net by Craig Short. Duncan Ferguson – United’s perennial nemesis – gave the home side some hope as he headed in from a set piece to cut the lead to one going into the break.
However, all hopes of the home fans were dashed by a stunning United performance in the second half as two goals in five minutes close to the hour mark from Cole and Blomqvist killed the game off completely. It was a wonderful day for all travelling supporters who enjoyed themselves in the Goodison rain. Since then, United have never won by a three goal margin at Everton which clearly shows the magnitude of the performance.
Everton 3-4 Manchester United (2003-04)
One of the most exciting matches ever in the Premier League, this game on a wet February day at the Merseyside will always be etched in the memories of all the United fans. The champions were looking to stay hot on the tails of Arsenal as they looked to secure a win at what has always been a tough trip for them.
The visitors were fast off their blocks and seemed to wrapped up the game before the half-hour mark as a brace from Saha and another well take goal from Ruud van Nistelrooy helped their team to race to a 3-0 lead. Manchester United looked in complete control and Everton fans feared a real embarrassment going by what was on show in the first period.
However, the second half saw a stunning Everton comeback as three goals from set-pieces brought them on level terms and it was the Toffees who were making all the moves. Sir Alex was going bonkers on the touch-line as his team was guilty of some atrocious defending. Ronaldo was brought on for Fletcher as the manager went all-out to secure a much needed win.
The move turned out to be a masterstroke as the Portuguese delivered an inch perfect cross – one which would have made even Beckham proud – at the far post towards Van Nistelrooy. The Dutchman clearly wanted the ball most as he outleaped the Everton defender to score the winner and saving his defence a hair-dryer.
Everton 2-4 Manchester United (2006-07)
This was another memorable game between the two sides in recent years, not only in terms of excitement but most certainly in terms of impact of the result. The game had a lot at stake as Chelsea were quickly catching up the league leaders and a defeat could have proved to be very costly for Manchester United.
The Blues were playing at the same time against Bolton at Stamford Bridge and as per normal routine, the Blues of London took the lead. Over at Goodison, United were two down after 50 minutes into the game and the title looked to be slipping away as problems mounted in pursuit of the championship.
But with United, it’s never over until the final whistle as the Reds looked to mount another one of their classic comebacks. However, they needed lady luck to be on their side as they were dealt a much needed life line just when the heads were starting to drop. Everton’s stand-in goal keeper fumbled the ball and John O’Shea , the match-winner at the Anfield earlier in the season, poked it in.
United smelled blood now as Ferguson threw caution to the wind and Ronaldo was summoned. Another corner kick and Phil Neville scored for United. With time running out, Wayne Rooney found the winner against his former club and news from Stamford Bridge almost handed United the title as Bolton came back to snatch a point. But the scoring wasn’t finished as Chris Eagles put the icing on the cake by finding the net in injury time and sealed the deal for the Champions elect.
Everton 3-3 Manchester United (2009-10)
This will always be remembered as Manchester United’s most eventful trips to the Goodison Park in recent times both for off-field as well as on-field events. Wayne Rooney had been making the headlines all summer for all the wrong reasons including his poor performance at the World Cup. However, just before this game, the story of Rooney’s involvement with a prostitute broke out and he was dropped by Sir Alex in order to save him from the abuse.
Everton were clearly buoyed by the absence of United’s talisman as they began the game as the stronger team. Their exploits were rewarded as well as they took the lead through Steven Pieneaar in the first half. However, the goal jolted United to life as they were quick to strike back through Darren Fletcher as both teams went into the break at 1-1.
The visitors began the second half just as they ended the first and midway through the second period, they had taken a 3-1 lead through goals from Vidic and Berbatov and if it was not for Tim Howard, Fergie’s team would have been well out of sight. But it was not to be, as two injury time-goals from Cahill and Arteta brought the Toffees level and left Manchester United licking their wounds.