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Saturday 13 September K.O. 15:00

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Goodison Park | 20th August 2012 20:00

Everton v Manchester United

A Marouane Fellaini-inspired Everton outshone deposed champions Manchester United to record an opening day victory in the finest of styles.

In a game billed as being all about Robin van Persie's Manchester United debut, the standout performer was Everton's own big man from the lowlands.

Fellaini, operating in an advanced midfield position behind Nikica Jelavic was the best player on the pitch and rightly crowned his performance with the winning goal.

Fittingly it came from his afro-covered head as his conversion of Darron Gibson's second-half corner underlined his dominance in the air.

There were plenty of other excellent Toffees performers; Phil Jagielka in the second half and Darron Gibson in the first springing immediately to mind.

Such was Everton's early quality, the first half turned into everyone versus David De Gea as the visitors' Spanish custodian was extended time after time.

Man UnitedPhil Jagielka challenges former Blue Wayne Rooney

The home side's midfield, reinforced by skipper Phil Neville was highly competitive and the towering Fellaini won pretty much every high ball.

After a couple of wayward headed efforts Everton zeroed in on the goal with the big Belgian barging through the defence and striking the post inside 15 minutes.

Steven Pienaar's influence increased as the game went on and after he'd combined with Leon Osman to release Jelavic the chances started to flow.

First the South African headed De Gea's feeble punch goalwards only for the glovesman to backpedal rapidly and tip the danger away.

Much as he had been at Old Trafford four months earlier, Fellaini was unplayable and from his well-directed chest-down Pienaar flashed a volley wide.

The same player sent a low effort curling towards the far corner 33 minutes in with De Gea again alert to palm the danger away.

Man UnitedLeon Osman is brilliantly denied by United stopper David De Gea

The visitors' sporadic attacks had seen Rooney go close twice but the action was all at the other end as their keeper's best save yet saw him repel Osman's fiercely struck snapshot.

He even turned away a deflected Baines free-kick before the break and the second half was more of the same.

Fellaini set up Osman to crash a volley off the underside of the bar but eventually his aerial dominance paid off as he headed Gibson's corner through the crowd and in with 57 minutes gone.

His next effort was easier for De Gea and United's response was to hand £24million striker Van Persie a debut - but only after Jagielka had cleared brilliantly off the line from Tom Cleverley.

Man UnitedMarouane Fellaini heads the winner

With the Dutchman came the visitors' inevitable spell of pressure but not the flurry of chances or headline-grabbing finale Sir Alex Ferguson would have envisaged.

Howard was out smartly to deny another debutant, Shinji Kagawa, but other than claiming a couple of crosses, the American was largely untroubled as Everton celebrated a magnificent start to the campaign.

After four minutes of injury time Goodison - at its boisterous, bouncing best - rejoiced.

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