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Saturday 16 December 2017

De Gea saves day as Reds rise

Falcao hits winner as United go fourth

Man of the match Angel di Maria said his award should have gone to Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea after his side recorded back-to-back wins for the first time under Louis van Gaal with a 2-1 win over Everton.

Di Maria put United ahead midway through the first half as he fired home from Juan Mata's cross for his third goal of the season. But the Toffees had the chance to level matters at the break after Tony Hibbert was brought down by Luke Shaw on the stroke of half-time.

Leighton Baines stepped up to take the resulting penalty and aimed for the bottom left but was thwarted by De Gea, who made a big one-handed save.

Baines made up for his mistake 10 minutes into the second half as he picked out Steven Naismith with a pinpoint cross in the centre of the penalty box and the Scot headed home from close range with the equaliser.

The hosts were back in front just after the hour mark as Di Maria turned provider for fellow summer recruit Radamel Falcao, who slotted the ball past Tim Howard from six yards out to make it 2-1 with his first United goal.

De Gea did well to keep out two late Leon Osman strikes, one from Gareth Barry and one fantastic effort from Bryan Oviedo as the hosts held on for the three points.

Di Maria said: "I think David is the guy the who deserves this reward rather than myself he saved us throughout the game and particularly towards the end and the penalty as well so not only him but the rest of the side deserve this."

He also reserved praise for fellow newcomer Falcao and hopes the win is the start of things to come at Old Trafford, adding: "Yes, it's great for him.

"He's been looking for that first goal for a while now and he's it's very, very important for him now. I think not only him but ourselves are on the right road now and the main thing is we're fighting for victories and fighting for points.

"We've got the three points for the day and hopefully we can now move further up the table."

Red Devils boss Van Gaal was not completely happy with the performance of his team either despite the result, which moved United into the top four. Poor defending allowed Steven Naismith to head in an equaliser after Angel di Maria's opener and Everton might have taken all three points had Baines not had his penalty saved. The Dutchman thinks his team gave too many chances away, particularly in the second half.

"We are not playing good but we are already fourth in the table," Van Gaal said. "That is what I have told my players.

"We played well for one half. We have to do it 90 minutes. We haven't defended well. We have to improve our organisation. We have given in the second half four big chances away. In other matches, we didn't (do that)."

When asked whether De Gea won the game for United, Van Gaal said: "Yes, of course, because of what he did at the end of the game, and at the end of the first half he stopped a penalty so that was good too. He did very well in the last 15 minutes. When you stop those kind of shots you are very good.

Roberto Martinez accused referee Kevin Friend of costing Everton a point because of refereeing blunder.

Martinez believes Falcao's goal should not have been allowed to stand though as he felt the game should have been stopped to allow midfielder Steven Pienaar to receive treatment for an injury he sustained moments before Falcao found the net. "We're disappointed with the second goal. I thought the referee made a major error," the Everton manager said after the 2-1 defeat. I just don't understand that decision. Steven Pienaar was on the ground, we made it clear to the referee to stop the game and he allowed it to play on."

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