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Old Trafford | 21st November 2009 17:30

Manchester United v Everton

The last time these two sides met, Everton won a penalty shootout to reach the FA Cup final at Manchester United's expense.

There was to be no such ecstacy this time around.

The Blues were searching for their first win at Old Trafford since August 1992 but the reigning champions demonstrated they are more than capable of securing a record-breaking 19th title this season as goals from Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia kept David Moyes' men in the bottom half.

In a further blow, midfielder Marouane Fellaini was booked in the first half and will now miss Wednesday's trip to Hull City.

David Moyes made just one change from the side which won at West Ham prior to the international break, bringing in Lucas Neill at the expense of Tony Hibbert.

Louis SahaLouis Saha fends off Wes Brown

It meant Louis Saha led the line alone at the stadium he called home for four and a half years prior to moving to Merseyside.

For United, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to do what England boss Fabio Capello won't and paired Wayne Rooney with Michael Owen.

From the beginning Everton's game plan was clear - keep it tight, defend in numbers and look to the pace of Saha on the break.

For 36 minutes it worked as United were restricted to rare sights of goal, a weak shot from Giggs the only effort to trouble Howard in the opening half hour.

Saha though was having little joy going forward and himself only troubled van der Sar once. Receiving the ball just inside the box the Frenchman swivelled on the spot but failed to muster the power to trouble his former team-mate.

Everton's resiliance was finally broken nine minutes before the break. And in some style.

Patrice Evra delivered a swirling cross from the left which Valencia headed back towards the edge of the box. Waiting was Fletcher who unleashed a thunderous right-footed volley which soared high to Howard's right.

Wayne Rooney faces his former Club.Wayne Rooney faced his former Club.

From that point an Everton comeback was always a big ask. Following this game United remain the only Premier League team this season not to have dropped points from a winning position.

In attempt to find a route back into the game Moyes replaced Dan Gosling with Yakubu at the break, switching to 4-4-2.

The move prompted a greater urgency to get forward and when Heitinga ventured towards the United box for perhaps the first time of the afternoon he found room to test van der Sar with a floated left-foot shot.

Fellaini broke through and had the ball in the net shortly afterwards but was rightly flagged offide, while at the other end Rooney saw a curling effort clip the crossbar.

Carrick's measured shot did double United's lead shortly after though and when Valencia's shot looped off Leighton Baines and past Howard 14 minutes from time a home win became inevitable.

Jack Rodwell may have added a late consolation for the Blues but saw his fierce drive turned away by van der Sar.

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