|David de Gea makes the save. Source: david-lindegaard|
The second half was, without a doubt, a magnificent encore. Rooney's early shot went wide, while Everton's Darron Gibson shot the ball high off-target. Fellaini picked up a cross from Tony Hibbert on the 50th minute, playing the ball to Osman, whose powerful shot ended up hitting the crossbar. United countered with Kagawa and Welbeck leading the way. Again, Jagielka slid in to clear the ball away. Rooney had two more chances for his team, but his attack was cut short by Distin, and his shot from outside the box flew past the net. On the 57th minute, Everton finally cut to the chase. Gibson's corner kick into the box gave Fellaini his much-anticipated goal-scoring moment. Fellaini won the header and the hearts of Everton fans, sending the ball flying off of a ricochet past De Gea. As ESPN rightfully pointed out, there was a new "star of the show". Fellaini wasn't stopping with one header, though. De Gea took the ball before the Belgian could score again. Manchester United were inches away from equalizing when Nani made a cross into the box. US National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard marked Welbeck, and when Tom Cleverley got the ball instead and took a shot at the open net, Jagielka was there to back up the keeper and clear the attempt. Rooney had no one to pass the ball to from the right flank, and Robin Van Persie was subbed in for Welbeck. RVP made his debut by immediately taking the corner for his team. United appeared to be getting ahead, despite the great defending that the Blues were showing. Nani's game was disappointing, though, and didn't differ much from his usual hapless squanders. Two United newcomers created a great combination. Van Persie gave a great pass to Kagawa on the 79th minute, who dribbled past several defenders and was not far from goal when Tim Howard saved the ball. It's difficult to determine what was wrong with such a good-looking picture - the fact that United lost to Everton for the fourth time in twenty-one games, or that the former Arsenal goal-scorer didn't do much else to contribute to altering the result in the remaining ten minutes of the match. Sir Alex Ferguson subbed out Cleverley for Anderson. The Brazilian contributed to United's last attempt of the match. After Tim Howard blocked Patrice Evra's shot, Anderson tried to score himself, but unlike Evra, he ended up kicking the ball past the net.
There's a lot that Robin Van Persie could have done to save the game for his team and earn the Red Devils at least one point in their first game of the season. He had ten minutes, plus added time, to make an impact, and only one potential assist. It's safe to say that the stars of today's match were Marouane Fellaini and defender Phil Jagielka. A player's prior success does not necessarily guarantee their future performance, whether for their current team or at another club. Perhaps the best measure of success is that of a player who achieves great fame, but doesn't let the six-figure digits get to his head. The next few games will say a lot about whether Robin Van Persie will help turn things around for United.
Barclay's Premier League
Monday, August 20, 2012, 3PM EST
Everton FC vs. Manchester United - 1:0 (0:0)
Arena: Goodison Park (Liverpool, England)
Referee: Andre Marinner (Birmingham, England)
1:0 Marouane Fellaini ('57)