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Goodison Park | 29th October 2011 12:00

Everton v Manchester United

Everton suffered defeat to Manchester United at Goodison Park for the first time in four years.

And, like that day, it was a solitary goal that consigned the Blues to misery. Javier Hernandez delivered the match-winner with a 19th minute strike. But that does not tell the story of a game which, for long periods, the home side dominated.

David Moyes' men were ultimately undone by their failure to convert possession into chances and - crucially - goals.

Marouane Fellaini was the stand out figure in a robust and controlled performance by the Blues which kept their visitors on the back foot for long periods.

But the closest they came to breaching David De Gea's goal was in the latter stages of the opening period when a sweetly struck free-kick from Leighton Baines hit the underside of the bar with the keeper stranded.

The manager made a host of second-half changes in a bid to turn territorial advantage into an equalising goal. But it was to prove fruitless.

It could have been oh so different, had the Blues' flying start delivered a goal.

Inside 20 seconds Seamus Coleman had exposed the visitors down their left flank and darted into the box - forcing De Gea into an early stop.

It was a lively opening that also saw Tim Howard tested by Ji Sung Park inside two minutes.

But, after producing 10 goals in the previous two meetings  between these sides at Goodison, perhaps the open, attacking outlook from the outset was no great surprise.

What was surprising was that after that lively opening, the game only produced one goal.

Heitinga goes back to shield the ballHeitinga goes back to shield the ball

It came during United's best spell of the contest, Hernandez turning a Patrice Evra cross in from close range in the 19th minute.

Everton struggled to regain a grip on proceedings as Goodison fell flat in the wake of that setback - but they did.

A prolonged spell of possession garnered little though until the 35th minute, when John Heitinga floated a ball onto the head of the imperious Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian nodded down to Leon Osman but his first-time right foot effort couldn't beat De Gea.

Moments later and with the home crowd buoyed, Jack Rodwell produced a strong round that culminated with a left-foot effort flashing wide of the upright.

The home side's territorial advantage in the latter stages of the first half also provided a couple of opportunities from free-kicks around the United box. Louis Saha fired one effort into the wall and Leighton Baines was so unlucky to see a textbook effort hit the underside of the bar.

Saha had two other snapshots as Everton's pressure mounted but despite their efforts they remained a goal down at the break.

Teenager Ross Barkley was introduced for the second period at the expense of Bilyaletdinov.

De Gea used his head to save a Rodwell drive on 53 minutes as the home side continued to make the running.

Man UtdDiniyar Bilyaletdinov runs with the ball

But the arrival of Nani in place of the injured Tom Cleverley added to the counter-attacking threat of the men from Old Trafford. And just such a counter-attack ended with Howard forced into a good dave to deny Danny Welbeck on the hour mark.

And as the game progressed, Everton's possession provided fewer chances in the final third. It seemed the first-half strike would prove decisive.

And so, with 15 minutes left to play, Osman was sacrificed to accomodate a second striker in the shape of Greek Under-21 international Apostolos Vellios.

And more chances began to flow. A Saha drive wide, a goalmouth melee and a Rodwell effort over all provided hope.

French youngster Magaye Gueye replaced Saha for the closing stages.

In that period Coleman and Vellios both tested De Gea and there were tentative calls for a penalty kick when Gueye tumbled int the box.

But the goal proved elusive. Add to that frustration an injury-time caution for Fellaini which triggers an automatic ban and it is clear this is a day Evertonians won't want to remember in a hurry.

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