Live Commentary: Manchester United 2-0 Everton - as it happened

Live Commentary: Manchester United 2-0 Everton - as it happened
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live text updates from Manchester United's Premier League clash against Everton.

Manchester United went into their home encounter against Everton this afternoon knowing that a victory would send them 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

As it was, first-half goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie sealed the win for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who looked comfortable during the second half.

You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute commentary below.

3.01pmAfternoon all. What a big game we have in prospect here. Title chasing Manchester United up against Champions League hopefuls Everton - it should be a cracker. Let's hope so!

3.04pmIf last season's meeting at the same venue is anything to go by, it certainly will be a match you can't take your eyes off. United held 3-1 and 4-2 advantages, but were eventually forced to settle for a 4-4 draw as Everton refused to be beaten. Although United went on to lose to Wigan Athletic and Manchester City, it was crucial match as they lost out on the Premier League title.

3.07pmAnyway, that's enough pre-match chat for a few minutes because the team news from Old Trafford has just been released...

3.08pmMAN UNITED X1: De Gea; Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Evans; Jones, Cleverley, Valencia, Giggs; Rooney, Van Persie

3.11pmWell that is an interesting starting lineup from Sir Alex Ferguson, who understandably has Real Madrid on Wednesday night on his mind. Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick are not included, which has given chances to the likes of Jonny Evans and Phil Jones in the centre of midfield. Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have not been rested though.

3.12pmEVERTON X1: Howard; Jagielka, Baines, Neville, Distin; Gibson, Mirallas, Pienaar, Osman, Fellaini; Anichebe

3.15pmThere's not really any surprises in that Everton lineup. Former United player Phil Neville has moved into a full-back role, while Victor Anichebe has again been preferred to Nikica Jelavic as a lone striker. Everton fans will also be pleased to see that Marouane Fellaini has shaken off a hip injury to start.

3.19pmStaying with the big Belgian - he was the difference when these two sides met at Goodison Park on the opening day of the season. Quite simply, he was unplayable. He scored the only goal of the game and was a constant threat to the United defence. No doubt Ferguson has told his players to be extremely wary of him today.

3.22pmFor those who didn't see that game or have forgotten it, here are some video highlights:

3.26pmGoing back to United, their side is not as weak as some predicted. Granted they are resting the likes of Carrick, Ferdinand and Shinji Kagawa, but it still includes a number of top class players. Whoever he plays though, Ferguson has been keen to stress recently that he trusts every member of his squad.

"It will be different teams. The team on Sunday will not be the same as the team that plays on Wednesday," he said. "I trust the squad of players I have. They are all internationals, they are all good players and there is no reason why I can’t play them. They’re all contributing in their own way and that gives us a better chance of dealing with the various competitions we’re in."

3.31pmIf recent history is anything to go by, it doesn't look good for Everton today. Yes they gained a more than credible 4-4 draw last season, but they have not recorded a victory at Old Trafford since August 1992 - during the Premier League's first season. Peter Beardsley was among the goals for Toffees during a 3-0 win, while Ryan Giggs was in the United lineup.

3.35pmDespite that record, one United player that is expecting a tough test today is Rafael da Silva. Speaking to United Review, he said:

"It’s always difficult when we play against Everton. They have a good team and you can see they are always in the top five, at least, this season. When we play them at Goodison Park and at home, it is a tough game to play and, this time, it will be no different."

3.39pmTalking of Rafael, it wouldn't be a surprise if Fellaini moved out to his side at times today in a bid to have an easier battle in the air. While the Brazilian is a good defender, he is not overly blessed with height. That may also be part of the reason that Phil Jones has been included in the United lineup - to compete with Fellaini's physical presence.

3.45pmDiscussing Fellaini just now with Sky Sports News, Everton manager David Moyes has admitted that he will be looking for the Belgian to produce the goods today:

"He is one of the best players in the Premier League. He offers us different things. We will try and use them him the best we can. He has always done well against Man United," Moyes said.

3.49pmTEAM CHANGE: A late blow for Everton as Sylvain Distin has suffered an injury during the warm-up. The Frenchman has been forced out and his place has been given to Johnny Heitinga. Hardly ideally preparation for the Toffees.

3.53pmA certain Jose Mourinho is among the crowd today, making a final check on the Red Devils before they travel to face his Real Madrid side on Wednesday night. He's also just given an interview to United's TV channel MUTV. Anyone would think he is trying to make some friends at Old Trafford!

3.57pmA touching banner has been unveiled by the United supporters in Stretford End as the players come out that shows the team of 1958 that was devastated by a plane crash in Munich. The 55th anniversary of that disaster was on Wednesday and this is the first time that United have played since then.

1 minHere we go then. Everton, kicking from right to left, get this crucial encounter at Old Trafford underway...

3 minIt's been a really fast start to this match by the home side. They've slung the ball into the Everton box on three occasions, with goalkeeper Tim Howard able to clear each time. He looked a little nervy a couple of times though and only just made contact.

7 minEverton have now settled and are beginning to look assured in possession. Steven Pienaar has just had two sights of goal in quick succession, but both of his efforts were blocked by United's Jonny Evans. It's been a really good opening few minutes at Old Trafford.

11 minWHAT A MISS! You would have put your house on Robin van Persie scoring from there. Wayne Rooney threads him through and he rounds Tim Howard with ease. The angle is narrowing and it was on his weaker right foot, but he still should easily score. However, it looks as though he panics and the Dutch striker only succeeds in hitting the post. Big let off for Everton.

13 minGOAL! Man United 1-0 Everton (Giggs)

15 minHeitinga came into this Everton team late and he has just been caught napping as United take the lead. Van Persie gets the better of the Everton defender inside the area and squares for Giggs, who beats Howard with a low right footed shot. The post almost comes to Everton's rescue again, but the ball just creeps over the line. Giggs has now scored in 23 successive league seasons. Incredible.

18 minUnited look rather settled at this moment time. They are comfortable in possession and look capable of carving out more opportunities. One just fell to Jones 25 yards from goal, but it was on his left foot and flew high and wide of the target. He's not exactly known for his long range goals!

23 minAs expected, Jones's main job today has been to mark Fellaini. So far he has followed the Everton midfielder all over the pitch. It shows how much Ferguson rates the Belgian because he rarely orders one his players to man-mark a member of the opposition, especially at Old Trafford.

26 minMichael Owen on Twitter: "Slightly surprised Sir Alex started most of his big hitters. If they go 2-0 up I'd expect a couple of them to only play an hour."

29 minSAVE! First piece of work for David de Gea in the United goal and he is up to the task. It's Leon Osman with the effort as he sends a dipping half-volley goalwards from the edge of the area. De Gea got across his line though and palmed clear.

34 minIt's all gone a bit flat at Old Trafford, particularly for United. The ball is not sticking in the final third and Everton are beginning to play their way into the game. A better cross from Kevin Mirallas moments ago and Victor Anichebe would have had a tap in. As it was, the ball was behind the Nigerian and the danger was cleared.

38 minBOOKING! The first yellow of the afternoon goes to Everton's Mirallas for a wild sliding challenge on United midfielder Tom Cleverley. It was needless really because the United player was going nowhere on the left wing.

43 minJones is really beginning to get underneath Fellaini's skin. He is not used to being man-marked and it looks as though it is beginning to get on his nerves a little bit! The pair have been seen having words on a couple of occasions and referee Mark Halsey was forced to get involved a few moments ago to calm things down.

45 minGOAL! Man United 2-0 Everton (Van Persie)

45+1 minRobin van Persie has not been at his best today and he almost blew another simple chance. Once again he rounded Howard after being put through by Rafael, but his effort was lacking in power and allowed Heitinga to get back. Thankfully for United, the Everton defender could only help the ball over the line and they take a 2-0 lead into the break.

45+2 minHALF-TIME: Man United 2-0 Everton

4.49pmIt hasn't been the best of matches to watch, but United won't care one bit. They started well and managed to grab the lead through Giggs. The remainder of the half was not too pretty, but right at the end they extended their advantage and look a good bet to go on and win this match now.

4.54pmOne big talking for Everton at the break will be how they can get more out of Fellaini. He is being marked out of the game by Jones and the United defence at the moment. Perhaps he may have to drop a couple of yards deeper in order to get more involved. That will also provide more space in the final third for the likes of Pienaar and Osman.

4.59pmAs for United, as mentioned earlier it hasn't been great, but Ferguson will probably be pleased because his side have a comfortable lead at the moment. Of course, one goal changes everything and after this fixture last season, the manager won't allow any complacency to creep in.

45 minHere we go then. United, attacking the Stretford End, get the second half started...

49 minEverton have dominated the early exchanges of the second half without creating a goalscoring chance. United look content to just hit the visitors on the break when the opportunity presents itself. Those chances should come because Everton are beginning to commit more men forward.

54 minGiggs will turn 40 this November but what an incredible athlete he is. He first put Phil Jagielka under pressure and when the ball was knocked back to Howard, he forced the Everton goalkeeper into hurrying his kick and as a result United regained possession. Top work from the Welsh midfielder.

57 minSUBSTITUTION: Potentially bad news for United as Phil Jones limps off and is replaced by Michael Carrick. Jones had done a really good marking job on Fellaini. Meanwhile, Everton also make a change as Nikica Jelavic replaces Victor Anichebe.

62 minFellaini is really not a happy chappy at the moment. With Jones off the pitch, it now seems Jonny Evans has taken over the marking responsibilities. Their first battle sees the United defender come out on top and the home side win a goal kick. The Belgian isn't pleased with something, although he doesn't quite seem to know who to blame!

66 minCHANCE! How Man United are not 3-0 up, I haven't a clue. Evans was denied three times in the space of five seconds. The first two are pushed clear by Howard following a corner by Van Persie, and then just as it looks as though the Irish defender has a simple tap in, Jelavic gets back on the line to clear. The resultant corner is then volleyed just over the bar by Cleverley. United are beginning to turn the screw.

69 minSUBSTITUTION: Another switch for the Toffees as Mirallas is hooked and replaced by Steven Naismith. It looks as though the Scottish international will play up alongside Jelavic in the Everton attack. A sign that Everton are trying to force the issue.

74 minThe introduction of Carrick has really settled things down from a United point of view. All their moves are constantly going through the midfielder, who has installed a calmness into United's play. They are slowing the game down and are looking to shut out this match.

77 minGraham Taylor on BBC Radio Five Live: "Manchester United are now keeping the ball better and manipulating the Everton players across the pitch. One or two of the Everton players look disspirited to me."

81 minCHANCE! Decent opportunity for United to wrap up the points as Giggs squares the ball for Van Persie, who wrong foots Howard with his low shot across the goal. However, it skids wide of the target and Everton still have a slight hope of claiming something here.

82 minSUBSTITUTION: Jonny Evans is given a breather as Chris Smalling enters the action. It's nearly a shocking start for the United defender as he gives the ball away which allows Jelavic to get a shot in from the edge of the area. Thankfully for Smalling, De Gea gets down to save.

85 minBOOKING! I said Fellaini was getting frustrated and he has let that out just now by hacking away at Cleverley. It's a clear yellow card for the Belgian, who doesn't bother to argue the decision.

89 minThere will be a minimum of three minutes of stoppage time here at Old Trafford...

90+3 minFULL TIME: Man United 2-0 Everton

5.52pmSo, United tighten their grip on top spot and move closer to winning their 20th league title. They've got 12 matches left to play and lead Manchester City by 12 points. It would take a big error from Sir Alex Ferguson's side to blow that sort of lead. Although after last season, we know anything can happen.

5.53pmThat's all we have time for from Old Trafford. Thanks for joining us this afternoon and be sure to look out for analysis, which will be with you shortly. Until next time, goodbye.

Everton manager David Moyes prior to his sides match against Bolton Wanderers on January 26, 2013
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