Manchester United moved up to fourth place in the table after a hard-earned 2-1 win over Everton at Old Trafford.

Manchester United secured consecutive Premier League victories for the first time this season as they held off Everton after 90 minutes of high drama at Old Trafford. The result was a huge boost for Louis Van Gaal ahead of a two week international break during which he would be hopeful that the majority of his injured players will regain full fitness. Everton meanwhile stretch their winless run to five games in all competitions and sit just above the drop zone.

Robin Van Persie was given the captain’s armband for this game with Juan Mata starting in place of the injured Wayne Rooney. Everton made two changes from last week’s Mersyside derby as Steven Pienaar and Aiden McGeady replaced Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy. The hosts began dangerously and deservedly went ahead when Angel Di Maria curled home from the edge of the box to collect his third goal in five starts for the Red Devils. Luke Shaw’s tackle on Tony Hibbert in the area led to a penalty kick for the Toffees but Leighton Baines’s attempt was smartly saved by the excellent David De Gea. But Everton were not denied in the second half as a Steven Naismith met a superb cross from Baines to restore parity. Everton were on the ascendancy after the equalizer but fell behind after five minutes when Colombian striker Radamel Falcao prodded home his first goal for his new club. Van Gaal’s men held on for all the three points and were thankful to the heroics of their Spanish keeper who produced two stunning saves in injury time to seal a vital win for Manchester United.

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal felt his goalkeeper was the difference today,”Yes, of course,Because at the end of the first-half he stopped the penalty, so that was good. He did very well in the last 15 minutes – three shots outside the box is always difficult because a lot of players are in front of him, so his view is not always good but when you stop those kind of shots you are very good. And he saved us.”

“And I said to him it is always good that a goalkeeper has such games. So it shall improve his confidence also.”

Van Gaal was unimpressed by his side’s display in the second half and had some strong words for his team, “I’m always honest and I analyse the game and it is now our second game that we are not good in the second-half, Maybe last week we had an excuse but I’ve said to my players that is not an excuse, 11 versus 10, it’s more easy to keep your organisation then, because you’re allowed to play compact. We didn’t do that last week and we didn’t do it this week.”

“The first-half was very good, we created much more chances than last week, but last week we scored two goals and now, only one out of a lot of chances. And it was attacking and we didn’t give any chance to Everton until the last minute [Baines’ penalty]. So it was a very good first-half but we have to play 90 minutes.”

Van Gaal had some words regarding Radamel Falcao who opened his account in England. “When you play with a diamond you need to keep your positions and need to keep pressure on the full-backs and in the second-half the danger came from Baines,” Van Gaal stressed. “That’s why I changed Falcao and Wilson and he had to play more on the right side, but also [Antonio] Valencia, I saw him struggling, he played very well in my opinion, he was one of the stronger players in the first-half. But when you are not playing so much, then it is always difficult to play 90 minutes – you saw he had cramp after the match.”

“That’s why I changed him for [Marouane] Fellaini to do his job in that position. Oviedo was always going outside, then you have to speak with Rafa [Da Silva] and you can change, or you have to follow. Those kind of things you have to work out as a team and also in a training session with your manager.”

“Last week, you had an excuse but, in my opinion, it’s not an excuse because with 10 you can defend better than last week but now we play 11 against 11 and we haven’t defended well. We have given four big chances away – in other matches we didn’t give that kind [of chances]. I like Everton, also, because they are a playing team, but we have to do it better and we have to improve.”

Luke Shaw was taken off in the second half following a knock to his knee and Van Gaal bemoaned the timing of the international break, “Now all my players are gone. The rest are injured. We cannot train,” Van Gaal lamented. “I have to wait for [Ángel] Di María and [Marcos] Rojo to come back from Hong Kong, they are playing two friendly games, and then they are coming back with jet lag, so I cannot train them. Then I have to wait and then I have only two or three days before the game with West Bromwich Albion. That’s my problem, I know, and we live in this football world. I was a national coach. But it’s not so easy as everybody thinks.”

Manchester United have won just three of their seven league games but have quietly risen up into fourth spot. Van Gaal had a word of warning regarding this, “We are not playing good but we are already fourth in the table. What is coming when we are playing well?”