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Saturday 13 September K.O. 15:00

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Goodison Park | 25th October 2008 12:00

Everton v Manchester United

Everton produced their best performance of the season to date to secure a point in this thrilling encounter with the Premier League and European champions.

Marouane Fellaini was the goal hero, netting to secure a draw on the day he produced a sterling display in the heart of midfield.

It was a rousing performance that was matched by a compelling atmosphere - reminding everyone inside Goodison Park of the unrivalled thrills and spills football at the highest level can provide.

Everton had trailed at the break to a well-taken Darren Fletcher strike. But in the second period they discovered the fire in their belly - causing their visitors countless problems and doing more than enough to justify a share of the spoils, courtesy of Fellaini's 63rd minute header.

Having struggled for consistency and results in recent weeks, this was a welcome return to somewhere near the level of passion and passing fans have come to expect from a side that has secured European qualification from three of the last four seasons.

Steven Pienaar's role in that step up in form cannot be under-estimated. But every player in a blue shirt did their part on this day. Phil Jagielka was impeccable with his blocks and tackles, Tim Howard produced some great saves - one of which was from the very top drawer - and Yakubu ran himself into the ground for the cause, along with so many of his teammates.

Inside 30 seconds a great attacking move culminated in a Joleon Lescott pass picking out Marouane Fellaini and the Belgian midfielder producing a shot which was deflected for a corner.

Wayne Rooney slides on on Marouane FellainiWayne Rooney slides on on Marouane Fellaini

And there was another slick display of inter-passing on 10 minutes that provided the fans with cause for optimism. Louis Saha's shot may have been blocked, but the indications were good. There were moments in the opening quarter where Everton's passing football was as eye-catching as at any point so far this term.

The visitors, however, enjoyed long periods of possession - although they only threatened from free-kicks in an enthralling opening 20 minute period.

But then came the goal. Ryan Giggs timing a pass perfectly to pick out a run by Darren Fletcher that cut through the heart of the defence, with the Scotland international passing the ball under Tim Howard.

It could have been more minutes later - but a hat-trick of great saves from the US keeper denied the visitors. First from a Cristiano Ronaldo from distance, then brilliantly low to his right to deny Vidic and, finally, a finger-tip stop to prevent a Giggs curler finding the top corner.

There were fleeting chances for the Blues - some good crosses that were not connected with and an audacious attempt by Yakubu to chip the keeper from the edge of the box.

After the break Fellaini sent a shot goalwards but a deflection denied him as Everton went in search of an equaliser. The Belgian international, playing in a more advanced role, acquitted himself well. As did Pienaar with spritely outlook. But breaking down a side of the quality of Sir Alex Ferguson's European champions.

There were yellow cards brandished to both sides throughout the contest - some players more deserving than others. And such moments of controversy, particularly following a card for Neville and angry remonstrations by the United players to a challenge by the Everton skipper on Ronaldo, fired up the crowd for the final third.

And the volume rose again when Fellaini, who had been doing well in the contest, produced his second goal in two games at Goodison - rising prodigiously above Vidic to guide a header from a Neville centre into the corner of the net.

Joleon Lescott cuts out a pass to RonaldoJoleon Lescott cuts out a pass to Ronaldo

And they almost went ahead a minute later, Yakubu breaking free only for Van der Sar to get a strong enough touch on the ball to divert it onto the post.

There was drama and passion from the fans and the players - with Everton buoyant. A booking for Wayne Rooney for a challenge on Arteta followed by a signal to the home fans by the former Goodison striker led to his substitution by Ferguson, with Nani entering the fray.

But it was the home side brimming with confidence, spraying passes with aplmob and stretching United. Of course, there were scares. Ronaldo dragged a shot wide from a good position as the seconds ticked away. And the men from Old Trafford looked threatening with virtually every attack.

But so did Everton. And the visitors were fortunate that Wes Brown was punished more sternly when he was shown a yellow card for a foul on Yakubu as the Nigerian international burst through from the halfway line.

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