Manchester United Logo Manchester United 3 - 1 Everton
Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 30
Sunday 21 March 1999
Old Trafford, Manchester
Att: 55,182
« Arsenal (h) Ref: Mike Riley Liverpool (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 16th Premiership Results & Table
Manchester United: Solskjaer 54', G Neville 63', Beckham 67'
EVERTON: Hutchison 80' Sub: Peter Degn
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
Manchester United: Schmeichel, G Neville, Berg, Stam, P Neville, Beckham (71' Greening), Butt, Johnsen, Cole (71' Sheringham), Yorke, Solskjaer (90' Curtis). Van Der Gouw, Brown.
EVERTON: Myhre; Weir, Short, Materazzi, Ball; O'Kane (60' Jeffers), Grant (64' Degn), Unsworth, Dacourt; Hutchison, Bakayoko (5' Cadamarteri).
Unavailable: Barmby, Oster, Dunne, Collins, Bilic, Cleland, Farrelly, Williamson, Ward, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Gerrard (on loan).
Simonsen, Watson
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Manchester United:
EVERTON: Weir 25', Hutchison 45', Dacourt 47'.

Steve Bickerton SB-T
Richard Marland RM-T
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Solskjaer paves way for United celebration
by William Johnson
THE INDEPENDENT Smith resigned to spring struggle
by Guy Hodgson
THE TIMES United are ready to reserve best until last
by Kevin McCarra
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the latest Match Report

THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

Steve Bickerton
If Steve went to the match, you should see a report here soon...

Richard Marland
Richard probably did not go to this one...

 Solskjaer paves way for United celebration
William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph
OLE Gunnar Solskjaer's razor-sharp finishing provided the key to unlock an uncompromising Everton defence and the mounting frustration around Old Trafford quickly gave way to customary celebration.

The Merseysiders made no attempt to disguise their desire to hold out for an unimaginative draw and United, without their captain Roy Keane and Paul Scholes due to suspension and Ryan Giggs and Jesper Blomqvist through injury, toiled embarrassingly to break them down until the Norwegian took a return pass from Dwight Yorke to beat Thomas Myhre from close range.

Another skilful Yorke lay-off allowed Gary Neville to score only his second career goal and a typical David Beckham free-kick midway through a livelier second period ensured that there would be no letting up in United's determined pursuit of a fifth Premiership crown.

A Don Hutchison free-kick nine minutes from the end denied Peter Schmeichel the chance to break Alex Stepney's long-standing club record of 175 clean sheets but by then Everton were a spent force, looking almost as good a bet for relegation as their opponents are to hold on to their league leadership.

The four-point advantage over defending champions Arsenal remains intact and dreams of a unique treble, which includes the FA Cup, are growing in realism after an unbeaten run spanning 19 matches.

Six of those fixtures have come in the last 18 days – a demanding period which has brought much satisfaction for manager Alex Ferguson. "The players have really excelled themselves during that spell," he enthused.

"They have approached the situation in the right way by trying to win every game and we are looking really powerful at the moment. After such a dull first half today you could have expected things to become difficult, especially after all the emotion of Milan, but they really got to grips with the situation."

Ferguson's desire to give Solskjaer a larger slice of the action meant him deploying Yorke in an unfamiliar role just behind the front two, a strategy which he readily admitted was a failure. When he reorganised his team into a more familiar formation, the transformation was remarkable.

The crucial strike by Solskjaer was the 16th he has scored in a season which has brought more appearances as a substitute than starts. Ferguson, as ever, was grateful, as were the United supporters who saluted his premature departure with a knee injury which makes him doubtful for Norway's European Championship meeting with Greece.

Beckham, who also came off early to a deafening reception, is another international doubt after damaging a calf. He has more chance of playing for England against Poland than Giggs, absent with a hamstring injury, does of representing Wales.

Beckham's excellent shot around Everton's defensive wall and in off the groping palm of Myhre for his first goal since early November delighted Ferguson, who reflected: "It's good to see him back in the scoring charts after something of a drought. Maybe that will get him going again because we've come to expect a return of about 15 a season from him."

United should have had more as Everton buckled under sustained second-half pressure. Jonathan Greening, Beckham's replacement, was twice close to endorsing his impressive 20-minute show, shooting against the foot of an upright and then firing wide after Teddy Sheringham, another substitute, had set him up.

Gary Neville, whose rare goal came from the narrowest of angles to the shame of the Everton goalkeeper, might have been celebrating earlier but for an instinctive reaction save by Myhre, while Henning Berg and Jaap Stam, an imperious central defensive formation, both headed wide from close range.

Hutchison's 25-yard free-kick, taken before Schmeichel was ready, was Everton's only serious shot on goal in the second period. Their solitary first-half threat came from a similar position, Marco Materazzi extending the Danish goalkeeper with a curling shot around the wall.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Smith resigned to spring struggle
by Guy Hodgson, The Independent
Everton's generosity knows no bounds. Having agreed to put back this fixture 24 hours to give Manchester United recovery time after their European Cup exertions, they collapsed obligingly at Old Trafford yesterday. With opposition like this, who needs friends?

United did not even have to search deeply to maintain their four-point advantage at the top of the Premiership. For most of the afternoon their dynamic approach appeared to have been left in Milan but they stirred themselves for a dozen minutes in the second half to make it their ninth win in 10 League matches.

It was a weary performance from the treble chasers but they had reached the semi- finals of the European Cup by removing Internazionale in midweek and had an alibi. Everton had no excuse and, apart from obdurate resistance before the interval, no redeeming qualities. Two points above the relegation places, it is going to be another anxious spring at Goodison.

"In the first half we defended well," Walter Smith, the Everton manager, said, "but even then we weren't causing United problems. You cannot expect to play like that for 90 minutes, so when the goal came it wasn't a surprise. They deserved the win."

The first half was a barren landscape in terms of entertainment. Everton, with six defenders and a centre-back, Dave Unsworth, as a left-winger, made no secret of their negative intentions, although United were scarcely much better. Deprived of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through suspension and Ryan Giggs and Jesper Blomqvist through injury, the home side lacked width and as they turned inwards, the game resembled the traffic jams around Old Trafford afterwards.

United threatened to break free from this trap only twice, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a shot and Henning Berg with a header, and it was Everton who provided the most potent pre-interval moment when Marco Materazzi lashed a free-kick that required Peter Schmeichel to stretch low to his right to block.

The match had to improve in the second half, although even that was on a long fuse. Gary Neville provided the first hint that the afternoon was not going to be a complete bore with a spectacular volley after 53 minutes and two minutes later United took the lead.

Again Neville was involved passing to Solskjaer on the edge of the area. So little had gone right for United in the area you could have forgiven Everton for expecting the move to fizzle out, but the Norwegian exchanged a lightning one-two with Dwight Yorke and drilled the ball into the far corner.

With the dam broken the water poured through and United made it 2-0 after 63 minutes. Yorke turned away from Don Hutchison and spread doubt among the Everton rearguard with a twisting run that appeared to be a prelude for a shot from the £12.5M man. Instead he rolled the ball into Gary Neville's path and the full-back scored only his second goal for the club.

United were rampant now and three minutes later they secured the points with a third goal. Ronny Johnsen was brought down by Craig Short and in a central position and 25 yards out the setting was perfect for David Beckham, who swerved the ball round the Everton wall and into the net via Thomas Myhre's outstretched arms. It was his first goal since November.

United's Jonathan Greening hit the post and later pulled a shot wide after Teddy Sheringham had given him the freedom of the area so the damage to Everton could have been far, far worse. But instead of a rout the visitors discovered some respectability.

Jaap Stam fouled Olivier Dacourt and, while Schmeichel was still lining up his wall, Hutchison fired a shot past him, depriving the Dane of the chance to beat Alex Stepney's record of 175 clean sheets for United. In different circumstances he would have gone ballistic; with the current Everton it was a mere inconvenience.

It was the only thing to mar a good afternoon for Alex Ferguson. The United manager had feared that the first three weeks of March would drag his team down but they have remained unbeaten in six games spanning a period of 18 days and have qualified for the semi-finals of the European and FA Cups.

"They have excelled themselves," Ferguson purred afterwards. "Now they can get their break with the international teams. Some will play, some won't but they'll come back in two weeks ready for the challenge." So much for the sides of March.

Report © The Independent

 United are ready to reserve best until last
by Kevin McCarra, The Times
A SURPRISED Old Trafford bubbled, in the second half, with the merriment of people discovering that rationing has just been abolished. Until then, they might have expected another afternoon of stern, if productive, measures. Manchester United, the leaders of the FA Carling Premiership, occasionally grade their games, allocating just enough flair and energy to overcome the weaker teams.

This match yesterday appeared to have been cut from the same pattern as victories over Derby County and Southampton, in which deliberately weakened line-ups failed to score in the first half, before scrambling success after the interval. It was not even clear that United would enjoy that degree of effectiveness. With Roy Keane and Paul Scholes suspended, and Ryan Giggs injured, Alex Ferguson, the United manager, also chose to omit Denis Irwin.

Even minimalism can run to excess and United were running a risk. Those regulars who remain in the team in this situation must function, because there are too few established men around them to compensate for any lapse. For a long time, United's expertise was not operational. The deficit in performance could be glimpsed when someone such as David Beckham, the virtuoso of the cross, hit the first defender as he tried to deliver the ball.

So great are the reserves of talent, though, that United are always likely to tap it at some point. In this case, Dwight Yorke, the leading scorer, turned himself into an accomplice as others burgled the goals from a defence that had been well-secured. His work as a provider had, curiously, been less impressive when he was drifting behind the attack.

At the interval, Ferguson restored his partnership with Andy Cole and tucked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the left wing. The Norwegian, nonetheless, was not at all isolated from impact. After 54 minutes, Yorke was the pivot in the one-two that took Solskjaer through to drive across Thomas Myhre. It was his sixteenth goal in a season in which he has started just 14 games.

The Everton goalkeeper was then seen squabbling with the men in front of him, but any offence was venial when compared with Myhre's failings for the second goal. Yorke, in the 63rd minute, struck a studied pass into the right of the penalty area. Myhre was expected to be first to it and, even had he elected to remain on his line, he would have been safe, so acute was the angle for the advancing Gary Neville.

As it was, he did not collect and the full back, beating him to the ball, squeezed a shot into the untended net. Neville had not scored for almost two years, but, then again, he is rarely abetted in this fashion, either. United would probably have coped without the assistance, even if the scale of the victory might have been reduced.

"We have had a spell of six games in 18 days in which the players have excelled," Ferguson said. "They go off with their countries now, but they will return from that break ready for the challenge."

Giggs, Solskjaer and Beckham are all injured, although, according to Ferguson, the latter has a chance of overcoming a calf strain in time for England's game with Poland on Saturday.

The force with which Beckham established a 3-0 lead might, by itself, have been enough to make a muscle twang. Without a goal since November 4, he studied a free kick hungrily before bending the ball into the top corner in the 66th minute.

"It was good for him to score," Ferguson said. "He has had a little drought, because we can usually count on him for 12 or 14 goals a season."

At Everton, every player is experiencing a famine. No matter how rugged they can look in defence, they are always vulnerable because they cannot transfer the pressure to the opposition by scoring. The resistance shown early in the game was of no comfort to Walter Smith, the manager, who said: "We weren't really getting out of our own half."

It would be glib to invest Ibrahima Bakayoko's early hamstring injury with significance. The forward has too rarely been relevant, even when in perfect health.

Don Hutchison did find the net with a booming free kick in the 71st minute, but, at that stage, the audience was more absorbed in considering Jonathan Greening, a lively substitute, who was twice close to scoring for United. Everton will have to give opponents food for thought before they can nourish their hopes of staying in the Premiership.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 RESULTS  (Game 30)
Saturday 20 March 1999
Arsenal               2-0  Coventry City            38,073
Parlour 17, Overmars 80
Blackburn Rovers      3-1  Wimbledon                21,754
Ward 8 Jansen 18,25        Euell 66
Charlton Athletic     P-P  Tottenham Hotspur        Postponed

Leeds United          4-1  Derby County             38,971
Bowyer 18, Hasselbaink 32, Baiano pen:4
Korsten 45, Harte 85
Nottingham Forest     1-2  Middlesbrough            21,468
Freedman 37                Ricard 30, Deane 87
Southampton           1-0  Sheffield Wednesday      15,201
Le Tissier 41
West Ham United       2-0  Newcastle United         25,997
di Canio 15, Kitson 80

Sunday 21 March 1999
Aston Villa           0-3  Chelsea                  39,217 
Flo 59,90, Goldbaek 86
Manchester United     3-1  Everton                  55,182
Solskjaer 54,              Hutchison 80
G Neville 63, Beckham 67

Monday 22 March 1999

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 21 March 1999 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            30   18    9    3   69   31   38   63
Arsenal                      30   16   11    3   42   13   29   59
Chelsea                      29   15   11    3   44   23   21   56
Leeds United                 30   15    9    6   49   27   22   54
West Ham United              30   13    7   10   34   39   -5   46
Aston Villa                  30   12    8   10   39   37    2   44
Derby County                 30   11   11    8   32   32    0   44
Wimbledon                    30   10   10   10   34   44  -10   40
Liverpool                    28   11    6   11   52   37   15   39
Tottenham Hotspur            29    9   12    8   34   34    0   39
Middlesbrough                29    9   12    8   39   40   -1   39
Newcastle United             30   10    8   12   38   42   -4   38
Sheffield Wednesday          30   10    5   15   35   33    2   35
Leicester City               28    8   10   10   28   37   -9   34
Coventry City                30    8    7   15   31   42  -11   31
Everton                      30    7   10   13   23   35  -12   31
Blackburn Rovers             30    7    9   14   32   42  -10   30
Southampton                  30    8    5   17   28   56  -28   29
Charlton Athletic            29    6   10   13   33   40   -7   28
Nottingham Forest            30    4    8   18   27   59  -32   20

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