Manchester United bounced back from last Sunday’s 6-1 defeat by Manchester City as Javier Hernandez’s goal gave them a hard-earned victory at Everton.
Hernandez was well-placed just two yards out to side-foot in Patrice Evra’s cross in the 19th minute.
The goal was reward for a bright start from United, but they were matched by Everton for the remainder of the game.
However, Leighton Baines struck the crossbar with a free-kick and Louis Saha’s shooting lacked precision.
A point would have been just reward for the efforts of David Moyes’ side, but having failed to earn that they can take a lot of heart from a spirited display against opponents with a point to prove following a week of largely negative headlines.
For United, victory was all-important, with a stellar performance second, following their home humbling last weekend. They achieved the former, with only brief but impressive flashes of the latter.
There had been much debate this week over how United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would react to last Sunday’s defeat in terms of team selection.
In the event, he dropped defender Rio Ferdinand and winger Nani, retained Jonny Evans, despite his red card against City, and restored Nemanja Vidic and Tom Cleverley to what was an attacking line-up, featuring Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney. The latter’s every touch was greeted by the now standard jeers from the Everton support.
The approach initially paid dividends as United made positive and fluent early forays into Everton territory, one of which teed up Park Ji-sung, whose six-yard shot was saved by Tim Howard.
United capped their impressive start by taking the lead after 19 minutes, when Evra’s pin-point cross from the left meant Hernandez had only to side-foot home from two yards out.
However, instead of kicking on, United shrank somewhat and Everton grew as a force in the game.
David de Gea was forced to save a Leon Osman snapshot and Jack Rodwell fired wide from 25 yards before Baines struck the crossbar with a free-kick from the edge of the area as the home side pressed hard for an equaliser.