United march on the title

2011-04-23 16:51

Manchester United closed in on a record 19th league title after Javier Hernandez struck in the final minutes to earn a vital 1-0 win over Everton yesterday.

Tim Howard looked to have earned Everton a hard-earned point after a string of fine saves, but Everton could not stop Mexican striker Hernandez heading home in the 83rd minute as United opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

United will now win the title if they win their next two matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Everton’s last win at Old Trafford was back in 1992, but the Merseyside club arrived at Old Trafford with an outside chance of finishing fifth in the table ­after winning five of their previous seven games.

And despite the absence of key players Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta from the starting line-up, the visitors settled quickly.

Leon Osman was allowed space on the edge of the area to test Edwin van der Sar in the eighth minute, but it was Van der Sar’s opposite number who was responsible for Everton going in goalless at halftime.

The US international produced two fine saves to deny Hernandez in the space of six minutes.

Hernandez looked certain to increase his goal tally to 19 from an acute angle before the Everton stopper turned the ball behind in the 25th minute.

And Howard again frustrated Hernandez by keeping out his first-time shot after the move of the game involving Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.

Everton’s bright start was a distant memory as United continued to dominate while the hosts struggled to find the all-important breakthrough.

Hernandez went from being his side’s most dangerous attacking threat to becoming Everton’s 38th-minute saviour.

After Valencia had got the better of leftback Leighton Baines, he teed up Nani, whose low drive was heading for the corner of the net before it was deflected wide by Hernandez.

Everton manager David Moyes responded to his team’s first half showing by making a double change in the second half. Cahill was introduced with striker Victor Anichebe in place of the ineffective Jermaine Beckford and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

And the substitutions seemed to have an immediate impact.

Anichebe went sprawling after a nudge by Ferdinand inside the United penalty area, but referee Peter Walton waved away Everton’s shouts for a penalty.

But after Sylvain Distin ­almost scored an own goal, United took a huge stride towards claiming another Premier League crown double when Hernandez pounced from close range after connecting with Valencia’s cross.

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