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Everton vs. Manchester United (Matchday Commentary)

EvertonLogoManchesterUnitedLogo 
  
The newly-adopted favorite team of many U.S. national team fans takes the field today against one of the best teams in the world as Everton faces Manchester United at Goodison Park (7:45am, ESPN2).

The match will be Landon Donovan's first against Manchester United, as well as Tim Howard's latest encounter with his former club. The Toffees will try and slow down the seemingly unstoppable Wayne Rooney while Donovan looks to build on his stellar performance vs. Chelsea last week.

I will be providing commentary throughout the match so please feel free to follow along here. As always, you are welcome to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action.

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FINAL– Up next for Everton? The return leg against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.

That's all for me. Thanks for following along this morning. Feel free to share your post-game thoughts below, and look out for our Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary post covering the rest of today's action.

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FINAL– Everton 3, Manchester United 1.

Who needs Rooney? Everton has some truly impressive kids who both stepped up to deliver clutch goals.

No Tim Cahill? No Marouane Fellaini? No problem. The Toffees still find a way to win.

How smart is David Moyes?

Landon Donovan with another strong performance against a top team. He really needs to stay in England. Hopefully that can happen.

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92nd minute– Admit it, when you saw the schedule Landon Donovan would be playing while with Everton you thought he'd be facing more losses than wins. Now we're seeing wins against Chelsea and Man United back-to-back. Just amazing.

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91st minute– Rodwell runs onto an Arteta pass near midfield, dribbles at Evans, turns him to his right and sends a hard shot past Van Der Sar to the back post. What a goal from the kid. He's only 18 folks. Star in the making.

—————–

90th minute- GOAL EVERTON!!!!!!! And it's JACK RODWELL with a BEAUTIFUL GOAL. WOW.

EVERTON 3, United 1.

—————–

89th minute– How many minutes of added time? Seven? Eight? I'm kidding, but you never know with Sir Alex.

—————–

88th minute– Jack Rodwell comes in for Steven Pienaar.

—————–

88th minute– Rooney WIDE!! He tried to curl it into the top corner but the wall gets a head on it. United corner.

—————–

87th minute– Rooney draws a free kick on a foul by Osman. It's about 28 yards out, above the arc. Dangerous spot. Howard will be tested here.

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83rd minute– United corner. Rooney sends it in and another corner. Why is Rooney taking a corner?

—————–

82nd minute– Does a lead ever feel safe against Manchester United? Ever?

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81st minute– Michael Owen is in for Valencia. Everton fans give Owen a war ex-Liverpool legend welcome.

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79th minute– Here comes Everton again, and Donovan finds Pienaar, who finds Arteta, but Arteta swings and misses on an open look. Donovan is playing very well this half.

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78th minute– Donovan deserves his share of credit for setting up Pienaar on the goal. He worked a great give-and-go the sprung Pienaar for the open look on the assist.

—————–

76th minute- GOAL EVERTON!!!!! And it's Dan Gosling with the FINISH. Pienaar with the ball to the penalty spot and Gosling finishes. Donovan with the pass to find Pienaar on the flank.

EVERTON 2, MANCHESTER UNITED 1. WOW.

—————–

74th minute– I'll never understand why Donovan doesn't take every Everton corner. His corners have been simply better than his teammates, but we still see Baines and Arteta taking them.

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73rd minute– Arteta's corner is cleared. Donovan puts in a good ball but Gosling can't get a head to it. Everton looking better now.

Donovan tries to dribble through the United defense but loses it. Teammates recover but United eventually start a counter.

Pienaar with a yellow card.

—————–

72nd minute– Everton corner.

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70th minute– Dan Gosling comes in for Bilyaletdinov.

—————–

69th minute– Match has lost its shape as neither side is controlling the action.

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67th minute– Donovan does well to stay with Valencia defensively, forcing him to give it up.

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66th minute– Berbatov and Park come off for Scholes and Obertan.

—————–

64th minute– Scholes and Obertan coming in for United.

—————–

61st minute– Saha with a nice move to free himself, but shanks the shot from 20.

—————–

58th minute– A big problem for Everton today is lack of bench options. Missing Cahill and Fellaini will be felt this half. Yakubu is one option, while Rodwell could also get a look this half.

—————–

56th minute– Donovan with a good touch to force a turnover and start a counter. He just made a LONG run before giving the ball up to a teammate. United's defense does well to contain him.

—————–

55th minute– Rooney chips a pass into the area that Berbatov heads wide.

—————–

53rd minute– Bit of a sloppy start for both sides this half.

—————–

51st minute– Fletcher has a go from the arc, but sends it just wide.

—————–

48th minute– Baines skies the free kick. Need better there.

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47th minute– Osman draws a foul and Everton has a great free kick look from 26 yards out.

—————–

46th minute– We're back.

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HALFTIME– If you're up and following the commentary, let me know in the comments section (and let me know where you're watching from). 

—————–

HALFTIME– Everton 1, Manchester United 1.

Pretty even match, Everton matching United's quality with their own energy and fight. You have to give the Toffees credit for being tied and playing well despite not having Tim Cahill or Marouane Fellaini.

As for Donovan, he's playing better than he did vs. Sporting Lisbon, but that quick chance he missed is going to haunt him. 

———–
——

44th minute– Donovan with a nice trap of a Howard kick, and has Rooney kick it clear.

Some great energy from Everton today, particularly the past 15 minutes.

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42nd minute– Watched another replay of the Donovan miss and the ball looked to hit Brown's arm. That sequence happened pretty quickly so it wasn't exactly a sitter missed by Donovan, but I am willing to bet Berbatov or Rooney buries that.

—————–

40th minute– Donovan wins a header in the United box somewhat surprisingly as Everton finds a good spell of energy.

Neville kills a sequence when he doesn't make the run on a Bily pass.

—————–

38th minute– WOW, Donovan misses a great chance. A Baines cross is chested to his feet by Brown but Donovan rushes his shot and mis-hits it off his shin. Donovan did well to send the ball to Baines on the play, but was definitely surprised by Brown's move. Still, he won't get a better chance.

—————–

37th minute– Donovan with a nice bit of possession, and finds Bily, but Bily beats two defenders only to give it up to Neville rather than shoot on his right foot.

—————–

36th minute– A Baines cross into the six-yard box is caught easily by Van Der Sar.

—————–

34th minute– ESPN announcers discussing how Rooney angered Everton fans by kissing his United badge after scoring a goal. Can we call that "Pulling a Rossi"?

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31st minute– Another United corner dealt with by Everton.

United keeps possession and keeps the pressure on.

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30th minute– United on another break to earn a corner. They definitely look a touch sharper than Everton i possession, but that's not surprising.

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29th minute– I don't think enough American fans respect Park Ji-Sung for what he did for the U.S. team in the 2002 World Cup. If he doesn't score the winner vs. Portugal, USA doesn't advance, there's never Dos a Cero and never that epic quarterfinal match vs. Germany.

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28th minute– Park with a shot that forces a relatively easy save for Howard.

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27th minute– Other players get more headlines, but Leon Osman is a very underrated player. He puts in an honest day's work every match and is very effective seemingly every match.

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25th minute– Wow, Rooney races in on goal, dribbles past Howard, but Neville races in to force him to lose it. Howard did well to run out at Rooney and force a bad touch.

—————–

25th minute– Wow, Bily nearly streaks in for a second goal, but he strikes it high after Saha dummies a Baines cross in low.

—————–

24th minute– Pienaar's shot is blocked by the wall.

—————–

22nd minute– Donovan corner is cleared out. Everton gets the ball back and Pienaar draws a foul about 25 yards from goal, left of the D. 

—————–

21st minute– Everton earns a corner. Great end to end stuff now.

—————–

19th minute- GOAL EVERTON!!!! And it's Bilyaletdinov with a BLAST. Everton 1, United 1.

Bily races onto a loose ball, takes a touch and BLASTS it from 20 yards out. Great goal.

—————–

18th minute– The goal came from a Valencia ball from the wing. Baines gave him some space and Valencia sent it in low and hard. Distin got a foot on it but it still found Berbatov.

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16th minute- GOAL UNITED!!!  And it's Berbatov, who finds a Valencia low cross at his feet before roofing it from close range. United 1, Everton 0.

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16th minute– Corner taken short and finds its way into the area, but United can't get a shot on it.

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15 minute– United earns ANOTHER corner.

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13th minute– Baines' corner went toward Heitinga, who looked to be nudged by Rooney. No call.

Everton starting to find some possession now.

Saha with a good shot from distance to force a Van Der Sar save.

—————–

13th minute– Everton applies some pressure and earns a corner kick.

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11th minute– Corner cleared as United breaks into the area before Fletcher skies a chance from the top of the box.

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10th minute– United moves the ball around with relative ease in the middle of the field.

United earns ANOTHER corner.

—————–

8th minute– Donovan completes a clever back-heel pass to Pienaar, who draws a foul on his subsequent run.

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7th minute– Everton clears it away.

Still not much offensively for the Toffees as the sides feel each other out.

—————–

6th minute– Another United corner.

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5th minute– United's first corner is cleared from danger.

—————–

3rd minute– With Pienaar playing essentially as a central midfielder it looks like a straight 4-5-1 today. Toffees will need the extra man in the middle to try and win the battle against the tough tandem of Carrick and Fletcher.

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3rd minute– Donovan will look to use his speed against Gary Neville, who is not as fast as Patrice Evra is on the left.

—————–

1st minute– We're off and it looks like it's Donovan on the left and Pienaar centrally as a second forward, with Bily on the right flank. Interesting deployment.

—————–

PRE-GAME– The ESPN broadcast is listing Donovan on the right and Pienaar as the second forward. We'll see soon enough where they actually line up.

—————–

PRE-GAME– Landon Donovan will be playing in a different role for Everton today as the injury to Tim Cahill will force David Moyes to move Donovan into a withdrawn forward role behind Louis Saha, Cahill's normal role. The role could be an effective one as Manchester United is without first-choice centerbacks Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Here is Everton's lineup:

—————————-Saha————————–

Bilyaletdinov———Donovan—————-Pienaar

—————Arteta————–Osman—————

Baines———-Distin——-Heitinga———–Neville

————————-Howard————————-

Here is Manchester United's lineup:

—————Rooney————Berbatov————–

Park———-Carrick———-Fletcher———-Valencia

Evra————-Evans——–Brown————–Neville

———————–Van Der Sar————————–

—————–

185 comments
  • SecretSquirrel

    What a goal by Rodwell, he (and the Man U) defense made that look far too easy. Donovan really has looked to be the missing piece to Everton’s puzzle. They’ve just been on a whole other level since he joined.

    Like

  • Andrew in Tampa

    What were you watching? The only thing I’d like to see Donovan do more is shoot when he comes into the top of the box. He needs to stay at Everton. His presence on the pitch gives the team so much more depth and confidence.

    Like

  • ec

    I’ve got $20 to chip in for Everton to buy Donovan. He totally belongs in these games, I can’t stand the thought of seeing him back in MLS after this. Did I hear that this is only the 2nd time Moyes has beaten United? And more wins for Everton since they picked up Donovan than before. Let’s make this work, people!

    Like

  • Edwin

    Seems to me like Evans can get burned if you run at him quickly and cut fast to leave him behind just enough to let a shot off cleanly?

    Ives, you think Landon has a good chance of coming back to Everton if he does play for the Galaxy come end of March as planned? Perhaps after a good showing in South Africa? I can really see him going down there next season?

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    He did okay. I’d just like to see him bag a couple more goals! Still, he’s contributing positively in lots of ways.

    I like the poster below: I’ll pony up some dough to Everton if they want to buy Landycakes. I like him there.

    Like

  • CSD

    Edwin, If he plays too good in the World Cup Everton won’t be able to afford him. At that point US fans will be hoping he doesn’t go back to Everton because he has a shot of playing in the Champions League.

    Like

  • Hudson

    Another strong showing for Donovan but he still looks reluctant to shoot from distance, trying to dribble into the area instead of taking a crack when he has an open look on goal.

    Like

  • Frodo

    A.S. is right:

    It was not LD’s greatest game. And the chance Donovan fluffed was ghastly.

    I say this as a big fan.

    Like

  • Edwin

    Who then? Aston Villa? Tottenham? I know Defoe could use someone to partner with besides Crouch? Or they could use another dangerous midfielder if they go with just Defoe?

    Although I could see him at Aston Villa with Heskey if he stays at Villa Park?

    I just think he has something great going with Everton, although I still believe his game is best suited for La Liga, can you see him at a mid level club like Osasuna, Getafe or even Mallorca, or who knows? Villreal might bring him back to partner him up with Jozy?

    I kind of like the Everton romance he has going right now

    Ives, so any thoughts as to where he could end up after SA?

    Like

  • CSD

    If he heads back to the MLS it would only be 9 games in the MLS before the World Cup I think you’ll be OK. I am not too concerned about where he plays until South Africa.

    Like

  • John

    Thank you for the play by play .. I am out of the house and missed the game, so this was great. I am one of the new Everton US fans .. from Orlando FL … Just found your blog. Great stuff. Thanks!

    Like

  • ec

    I agree that it wouldn’t affect his ability to show up for the World Cup. Everton is on such a magical run that I’d hate to break up the party, they are now up to 8th and only 6 pts back from Liverpool in 5th.

    Like

  • CSD

    Until he plays in the World Cup it is all just speculative. If you look at how well he played recently against the top 4 and you throw a good World Cup performance in why wouldn’t a top four team be interested in him? Every World Cup players stature increases and they become must have commodities for the biggest clubs in the World. He should have 3 to 4 prime years left in his career. The LA Galaxy, the MLS, Landon and his agent all know his maximum value point would be in the summer after a great World Cup showing.

    Like

  • ec

    I’m not convinced Villa or Tottenham is that much of a step up from Everton, those teams are 6-7-8 in the standings right now despite Everton’s disasterous start to the season. I think if you’ve got a good situation on a quality team you go with it, searching for greener pastures has put many a player out in the wilderness.

    Like

  • CSD

    Edwin, to answer your question the club I would ideally like to see him at after the World Cup would be Arsenal but I don’t think that would work out with the players they already have. So I think I would go ahead and settle with Chelsea.

    Like

  • Nicole

    I wouldn’t classify it as ghastly. He had just challenged for a header and it fell to him quickly off the handball. No worse than Rooney fluffing his shot after he’d rounded the keeper. They both should have scored.

    Donovan brings another attacking element to Everton. He makes them much more dangerous.

    He had a very, very good game.

    Like

  • CA

    Solid performance from LD today, I’d rate him a 6.5. I thought that “ghastly” miss in front of the goal wasn’t very ghastly at all. The ManU defender knocked it down with his hand(should have been a handball) and Donovan simply didn’t have time to react. Most players would have done exactly what LD did in that situation-take a quick haphazard swipe at it and probably miss.

    Like

  • fischy

    He was a dangerous player, keeping ManUtd on their toes. However, he wasted too many chances — overhitting balls early on and then trying to dribble through half the defense. Also, late in the game, he was proving to be a defensive liability — one turnover led to a free kick and then a corner kick even after LD blocked the free kick, and other turnovers offered some scary moments. However, these gaffes were more than outweighed by his contributions on the other side of the field, being a general nuisance and keeping the Red Devils on defense. A good game, but not a great game.

    Like

  • fischy

    Except Bilyaletdinov, I guess? Not to mention Saha’s cracker from a very long distance even before the goal. I’m sure MOyes is quite happy with long shots, if they’re on target. That would be better than the long overhit cross and the overhit free kick that Donovan made in the first half.

    Like

  • fischy

    Indeed, It wasn’t ghastly. Hard to get off a good shot on that play. Would have been better to control it first, but hindsight is 20/20. Still, it was hardly his worst moment, as your 6.5 reflects.

    Like

  • BrianK

    Here is what the London Times had to say:

    “Landon Donovan was Everton’s other standout and there is anguish at Goodison that the American, although he would probably stay until May if he could, will almost certainly return to LA Galaxy next month because of the terms of his loan from the MLS team.

    Thanks to Donovan and flashes from Steven Pienaar and Arteta, United were second best for creativity and guile and Rooney — barracked by Everton fans, though not as badly as on previous returns to Goodison — suffered in a performance Ferguson admitted was “tired”.”

    The Times rated Donovan’s performance as an 8/10.

    Man,…Bayern Munich must have some reserve team!

    Like

  • fischy

    Not entirely a fair comment about Bayern. The German game is one which puts more of a premium on size and technique, whereas the English are obsessed with running and speed. Donovan’s game was always best suited for England.

    Like

  • BrianK

    Fischy,…with all due repsect, I think it was pretty fair (sarcastic!) comment about Bayern. For the Bayern reserve coach to say that Donovan was ‘not fit for [his] reserve team’ is a joke. Fact is,…Donovan did not get a fair shake at Bayern. The anti-Klinsman sentiment at Bayern carried over and Rummenigge and company did not evaluate Donovan’s talents objectively.

    Sad to say that Bayern is not the club they once were. They are stuck in the past. Once Ribery moves on,…they are really going to depend on bad off-side calls from referees to win matches.

    BTW – LD received 3 bonus points in the EPL Fantasy game for his performance today,…which equates to MOTM.

    Like

  • roysterer

    @ Ives

    Before his injury, Arteta was an amazing at set pieces, both free kicks and corners. He doesn’t seem to quite have it back yet, but he’s still got to keep trying.

    Like

  • TimN

    Landon needs to be in the EPL next season. It is quickly becoming obvious that this is not even a debatable issue. I like MLS, and think it’s great for American soccer, but at the end of the day it’s not the best place for our top talent. MLS is better suited for mid-tier or developing guys to get PT, or for aging guys who are still competitive, but not at the top level.

    Like

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