Manchester United lost back-to-back games for the first time under Louis van Gaal on Sunday as Everton secured a 3-0 win at Goodison Park after goals from James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas.
The defeat leaves the Reds fourth in the Barclays Premier League table with four games left to play and seven points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool, who drew 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday but still have a game in hand to play following their involvement in the FA Cup semi-finals.
The afternoon began with a minute’s silence that honoured former Everton chairman Sir Philip Carter and the 30th anniversary of the Bradford fire disaster. Although such occasions can affect the tempo of the game, this match began at a high pace.
Everton scored in just the fifth minute with a powerful counter attack that began with Gareth Barry clearing a United corner. The ball was scrambled forward and Seamus Coleman played it inside to James McCarthy, who scurried past challenges from Paddy McNair and Daley Blind to calmly finish past David De Gea.
Marouane Fellaini spurned an excellent chance to level moments later by blazing over from 15 yards after pouncing on a loose ball. The Belgian, making his first appearance at Goodison with United, was then booked following fouls on Coleman and Ross Barkley.
United’s pressing caused Everton problems, however, and the Reds controlled the opening 30 minutes. Blind, who was recalled to the starting XI in place of Radamel Falcao, forced a decent save from Tim Howard early on before the former Reds goalkeeper produced another comfortable stop to deny Chris Smalling’s header.